Quiz show

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

There are many things to love within Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire - its exotic locale, its color-drenched look, its exuberant spirit. But one of the first attractive features you'll notice is the structure. As is perfectly appropriate for a movie about a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the film is framed in the form of questions and answers.

Introduced in a nasty interrogation scene, Jamal (played as an adult by charismatic newcomer Dev Patel) isn't your average contestant. He's an orphaned, uneducated child of the Mumbai slums, yet he's one question away from winning the jackpot on the Indian version of Millionaire. The host assumes he's cheating and the cops agree.

In a seamlessly edited collage of past and present, Jamal argues that his hard-knock life has uniquely prepared him for the show's line of questioning. It's a tale involving his hard-case brother, as well as Jamal's lifelong love of fellow orphan Latika (Freida Pinto as an adult) and their frequent, cruel separations.

The energy and imagery Boyle harnesses in Mumbai are so intoxicating, you can get happily lost in his view of the city. But beyond the city itself, what drives the film, what makes it more than an exceptionally stylized travelogue, is a remarkably clever balance between tragedy, comedy, personal drama, global pop culture and life-consuming romance - in other words, many of the things people go to the movies looking for.

"Slumdog Millionaire"

Opens Friday

Grade: A