Posted by: Trisha Leigh | April 29, 2011

Film Rec Friday: Harsh Realities Form a Beautiful Life

Title: Slumdog Millionaire (released August 30, 2008)

What It’s About: A young man who grew up in the slums finds himself on the brink of winning a million dollars on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. When he’s arrested under suspicion of cheating, he tells his life story and in the process reveals how he knew all the answers on the show.

Who’s In It: Dev Patel, Frieda Pinto (no well known cast members at the time of release)

Favorite Quote: “I thought we’d be together only in death.”

Why You Should See It: I know this film ended up with a bit of a bad reputation, given that they hired a large portion of their cast from the actual Indian slums and some of the children ended up being taken advantage of for their brief and modest claim to fame. Setting that issue aside, what we’ve got here is an interesting story that needs to be told encased in a film that’s honestly acted and written.

It takes a good amount of creativity to take the old and make it new again, to find a fresh way to tell a tale we’ve read and seen hundreds of times before, but that’s just what Slumdog Millionaire does. It’s a love story, the story of a couple who are continually forced apart by the reality of their lives, who are beaten down and abused and told over and over that they are worth nothing. Somehow, by being self-sufficient, and smart, and fighting like hell, they find a way to not only be together but to claim the life they’ve always deserved.

I encouraged my mother to see this film (which, in retrospect, I should have realized wouldn’t work out), and afterward she told me how depressing she thought it was to watch. There are sad, depressing realities depicted in this film. Of the millions (billions?) of people living in the Indian slums, in conditions we can barely fathom from our comfortable Western couches. Of children abused, molested, used and tossed away like trash. Those things happen, though, and unless we’re forced to see them, we’ll go on pretending they don’t really exist.

Even with all of those hard to stomach moments (and there are a few), to me the message offered by the film wasn’t depression. It was hope. That people can have the kind of life they deserve if they strive to do the right thing and never give up on the people they love. That even the most horrific human being can find a way to redeem himself. That good things come to those who wait.

Perhaps most importantly, that even children who grew up in hell on earth can emerge with faith, with love, and with the hope that life can still be worth living.

What I’m watching right this moment: Grey’s Anatomy. Yeah. I still watch. Mostly for the wine with a good friend. Also for the scenes when Mark (Eric Dane) walks around in a towel.



  1. Another one I haven’t seen yet. I have to admit, I’ve been a little afraid to watch it, mainly because of those depressing scenes. But if it ends on a hopeful note, I think I can manage it. 🙂

    Oh, and I still watch Grey’s Anatomy, too, for much the same reason you do. 😉

    • Don’t be afraid. It’s so, so worth it.

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