Question: what do you call a film about a illiterate teen from Mumbai going on India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and coming close to winning 20 million rupees and possibly his death? Answer: the best movie of 2008. Slumdog Millionaire is a blistering coming of age story about life in the slums of India where survival is the name of the game; a wrong path taken equals almost certain death or worse. Jamal (Dev Patel), his older brother Salim (Madhur Mittal), and their friend Latika (Freida Pinto) are fine with playing the odds: they've been doing it since childhood. All three lives take different turns: Jamal works from job to job while trying to find his brother and his lost love; Salim becomes a thief and a killer for a mob boss, and Latika's the mob bosses plaything. Sounds cliched and depressing? The end result is a movie busting with life and energy in the face of overwhelming destitution and despair. Director Danny Boyle (Transpotting, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine), cinematographer Anthony Dod, editor Chris Dickens, and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy never sugarcoat the third-world living conditions in Mumbai or the characters' moral dilemmas; they let redemption, love and faith be their guides out of hell-on-earth living. You want to see a movie where hope, love and brutality meet and cross paths ever so seamlessly? It's all right here in the wildly gorgeous and heartbreaking Slumdog Millionaire, a sure darkhorse contender come Oscar time.
**** stars out of ****