Montreal Film Journal

THE DIRECTORS SERIES (21)




1995
Shallow Grave 90
[ review ]


1996
Trainspotting 92
[ review ]


1997
A Life Less Ordinary 51
[ review ]


2000
The Beach 85
[ review ]


2001
vacuuming completely nude in paradise 79
[ After giving big Hollywood flicks a go, Danny Boyle went back to the UK to make a couple of low-budget movies for the BBC, both written by Jim Cartwright and shot on DV. "Strumpet" has yet to be released on this side of the Atlantic, but "vacuuming, etc." is now available on DVD. A goofy twist on "Glengarry Glenn Ross", it follows door-to-door salesmen at work. Pete (Michael Begley) is a failed mixmaster who stumbles into the job, while Tommy Rag (Timothy Spall) is a seasoned pro, at least in his mind. What he certainly is is the most obnoxious man alive! Spall is absolutely hilarious in the part, chewing scenery like there's no tomorrow. Tommy Rag is a loud-mouthed, inconsiderate, arrogant fool, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, crazy-driving ("I like a bit of road rage, gets you going in the morning, better than caffeine.") and terrorizing people into buying his vacuum cleaners, harassing coworkers ("You know what it's like working at a place where everybody hates you? Invigorating.")... This might have been made for TV, but it's as dynamic as anything Boyle's ever directed, with plenty of madcap camerawork, techno music and especially Spall, the greatest special effect a filmmaker could have! ]


2003
28 Days Later 83
[ review ]



2005
millions 64
[ review ]



2007
Sunshine 75
[ review ]


2008
Slumdog Millionaire 93
[ On paper, the premise of Simon Beaufoy's screenplay (and the Vikas Swarup book that inspired it), which has an uneducated young man who grew up in the streets of Mumbai reach against all odds the final question on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, seems like a rather silly gimmick. But when you see the movie, you realize that the damn thing works, silly or not, and that it ultimately is indeed just that, a gimmick. You see, throughout Jamal's time in the hot seat, after each question, we're shown in a flashback how he got to know the answer to it.

So basically, the quiz show is just a framing device for the amazing life story of this kid who, despite all the grief, misery and abuse he's had to go through over the years, has not only remained high-spirited but managed to learn from all these hardships. We see Jamal make his way amongst other little beggars, thieves and hustlers, including his brother Salim, with whom he has a rocky relationship, Salim being a fighter while Jamal is more of a lover… Which means that it's ultimately all about a girl, the elusive Latika, whom Jamal will long for throughout his whole life, not unlike Forrest for his Jenny…

Blending action, comedy, drama, romance and even a musical number or two (stay for the end credits sequence!), "Slumdog Millionaire" is as rich, colourful and entertaining as the best of Bollywood, with an added grittiness and visual energy that reminds more of something like "City of God". Behind the camera, Danny Boyle does his career-best work – we've known that he was mighty gifted all along, ever since he first made his mark with great flicks like "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting", but like Wes Anderson last year with "The Darjeeling Limited", it seems like shooting in India has galvanized his filmmaking more than ever before. Add solid acting all around and an awesome score by A. R. Rahman (with a few priceless assists from M.I.A.) and you've definitely got one of the most memorable pictures of 2008. ]