Millions - Heroes With Zeroes

                                    A child often sees the world as a mystical playground, waiting to be explored. As a child gets older, wonder descends into cynicism, and imagination is converted into skepticism. But, at the core we have only two emotions : love and fear,  in the presence of one, the other disappears. So, when we lose the innocence of childhood, we are sucked into the world's dominant, fear-based thought system. Luckily, we have movies like 'Millions', which exists to remind us of a more innocent and peaceful time that is gone, but not forgotten. It is a whimsical fable about two young boys, who learns life lessons through fantastical experiences.

      Nine-year old Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) and seven-year old Damien (Alex Etel) are trying to cope with the drastic changes in their lives. Their mother has died recently, and their father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt), has decided to move the family to a new housing development on the outskirts of Liverpool. While his older brother adapts well to the new school they attend, Damien startles the teacher and his classmates with a lengthy and passionate summary of the lives of saints. The exercise was to name people the students admire; the other kids all named sports figures.

                               During one solitary session in his cardboard play-house, the roof comes crashing in on Damian...literally. The source of the problem is an overstuffed and rather heavy bag of cash. Damian immediately tells his older brother of the discovery, and the pair promptly come up with several good uses for the quarter-million pounds they've been blessed with.Damian considers the cash a direct drop-off from God and therefore the domain of the poor (A sequence in which the young brothers invite a crew of homeless people to a dinner at Pizza Hut is a true highlight.) Without getting into the story any further, let's say that "Millions,"  is set on the eve of England's intended conversion from pounds to euros, when the nation is in a frenzy to spend its soon-to-be-outdated sterling. The situation of the children ties in perfectly with , what's happening across the country.

             Director Danny Boyle has made "Shallow Grave," "Trainspotting," "The Beach" and "28 Days Later," a body of films that has introduced us to yuppie murderers, heroin junkies and flesh-eating zombies.Even after, 'Millions' he made a sci-fi movie 'Sunshine' and Academy-Award winning 'Slumdog Millionaire.' So, Mr. Boyle is  never the one to be pinned to a specific genre. He has concocted 'Millions' as a sincerely touching and joyously vibrant movie. 

                         Boyle also brings to the film a delightful visual mischievousness. Working with cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire, Dogville), he gives Millions an exaggerated visual appeal, using high contrast imagery, a constantly roving camera, and digital effects to render the complex interplay of reality and imagination that defines the worldview of children. 

                           The two young lead actors are pitch-perfect, especially Alex. But what makes his performance work is the way everybody else reacts to him. He is "weird," as his brother calls him, but he also is a well-realized soul whose generosity and compassionate heart make him very special. James Nesbitt plays their quietly melancholy dad with a master's touch. There's not a trace of deception or manipulation to be found here. 

                           Millions is a movie about children for adults. Some of the talk of currency switchover and other factors might lose a few kids, but adults should be grateful that Boyle have more to build their comedy than on stupid pranks. It does have a lesson in the end about using our resources to help those in need, but not in a preaching manner. 

                            Damien (Alex) is a exceptional kid because he is the only character who doesn't see the money as a way to enrich himself. Yet, the other characters are not hated for their greedy inclinations.  In fact, the film has a great deal of fun when the father, the father's new girlfriend, and the two sons go on a spending spree to use up as much of the cash as they can in one day. The appeal of such a scenario is undeniable, and the filmmakers respect our intelligence and our humanity by not downplaying this appeal.

                       Cerebral but not pretentious, holy but never holier, Millions is a gem of a film which takes big risks and reaps the rewards for its bravery.


 Millions - Imdb 


Aline Cinehindi said...

Brilliant review, Arun! A pleasure reading it. I look forward to watching the film now and showing it to the teenagers I know. Thanks for sharing!

ra said...

brilliant post Arun...i must watch this movie!!!

hey how do you get time to watch all such movies....