I find that my head is crowded with images of Mumbai, today, culled not so much from the past few days' news footage of gunmen and burning luxury hotels as from Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire
, which I finally got around to seeing last night:
Boyle's camera drinks in Mumbai's cityscape, panning across sprawling shantytowns and up the scaffolds of burgeoning skyscrapers, racing down crowded streets and alleyways after subjects who are constantly on the run, scrambling to survive. As the film's title suggests, scenes of unimaginable deprivation are juxtaposed with sudden boomtown wealth, horrific brutality with unexpected triumphs. Throughout, Boyle's storyline is animated by a Dickensian redemptive morality, and an exuberance that nods ever so slightly in the direction of Bollywood--the city's native cinematic style. Slumdog Millionaire
has to be the most exhilerating experience I've had at the movies in a long, long while. There are elements especially early in the film that require a strong stomach, but the film's emotional payoff is more than worth it.