Thursday, February 26, 2009

dog eat dog 

When I walked out of Slumdog Millionaire I remember feeling confused, disoriented, nauseated, and angry. Quickly on the heels of that I also remember thinking that this was not going to be a socially acceptable response when discussing it in mixed company. Sure enough, when I hesitated to praise it at one outing there was...a very awkward silence and very contentious stares levelled at me that demanded justification for my heresy.

Well, finally I stumbled across someone who was able to pen something that more or less captured my sentiments:

What I remember most vividly are the scenes of homicidal communal violence, universal indifference to the fate of helpless children, their blinding, maiming and daily exploitation (all presented as normal features of life in the big city) the routine use of torture on the merest suspicion by everyday police (this little station keep electrical equipment on hand for the purpose) and a general, straightforward, unabashed level of social snobbery so smarmy as to register in the pit of the stomach.

This is, however, no expose. The extensive scenes noted serve only as background for a facile and ultimately silly romance devolving on the conceit described. The action is camera driven. The tension relies on manufactured delay and forced uncertainty. The characters aspire neither to depth, texture, nor personality. The girl is typically beautiful notwithstanding the dreadful scar inflicted by her vedddy vedddy bad tormentors.

Most strikingly, the creative sensibility betrays no larger or principled interest in its depiction of abominations. The fiendish use of small children is mere local color.

Those with strong stomachs and a taste for formulaic melodrama in distant lands may buy it. Many have and no doubt will. I found it the creepiest motion picture I have seen in a long, long time. Creepier still is the popular practice of describing – and, I must conclude, experiencing – Slumdog Millionaire as a “feelgood” movie.


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