Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Millions), this is a bold, big, and beautiful film. It's a rich, gripping tale of heroism, struggle, true love, and unfailing friendship set in the rough-and-tumble world of modern India. Based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, Slumdog Millionaire combines the heady, energetic, and inspired direction of Boyle's earlier films with the heart and humanity of his lesser-known, more recent films; the end result is a knockout of a film. Slumdog Millionaire has the feel and structure of a great Dickensian adventure combined with a bracing, modern look at life in 21st-century India -- and brilliant performances as well. Patel shines as the honest, striving, good-hearted Jamal, while Pinto gets to be far more than just "the girl." Co-star Irfan Khan (whom you may recognize from A Mighty Heart) is also excellent as the police detective who ultimately comes around to standing by Jamal as he tells his story, and Anil Kapoor is terrific as the charming, bullying game show host.
Slumdog Millionaire features some rough stuff -- violence, poverty, exploitation -- but at the same time it has a heart and humanity that shine through even in its darkest moments. And when the finale unfolds, it feels truly earned considering all that's gone before. Slumdog Millionaire may seem a little tough to get into at first with its blunt depiction of the cruelty of life and the switches between English and Hindi throughout the film, but it unfolds like a plain-spoken thing of wonder; it's easily one of the best films of 2008.