I caught up with director Danny Boyle via phone. He was in Detroit, where Fox Searchlight’s “Slumdog Millionaire” was illuminating every screen it played. Tuesday night it grossed $49,644 in ten theaters, bringing the total box office to $522,853. But I don’t think anyone entering any of the theaters talked about the box office. It was the movie. And what a movie — that’s what it is — a MOVIE! All but one screen at the Landmark in Westwood had a couple of seats available and we grabbed them. And we were probably, no, really the last to leave the theater when only the last frame of its joyous credits faded. We wanted more.
I made arrangements to speak to the traveling director Danny Boyle last night. He has been generously speaking at screenings and was equally enthusiastic about the film in our discussion, as he was in Detroit Monday and next in Philadelphia en route to N.Y., then home to London and touring Europe. The film goes into full national release Dec. 26, by which time I am sure it will have amassed a long list of award nominations. It is indeed the little engine that not only could — but does. Boyle said the movie cost $13 million, which by today’s standards is, well, economical for a film with its scope and grandeur while telling the most personal of stories. Ironically, it was made not by someone who knew of the real India. And he admits, of his arrival and introduction to his location: “I was completely blown away when I went there — it was like my first visit to New York. And it’s a very exciting time to be there.”
Although knowing the enormity of the setting as written by Simon Beaufoy, Boyle was determined to make its power personified by the film’s leads Dev Patel, Freida Pinto and Hindi Films’ multi-role’d and award-winning Anil Kapoor. I imagined that Boyle had used the creativity of CGI filmmaking in some of the most remarkably overpowering sequences, but he said he used it only once: to camouflage a train escape sequence for the youngsters, who were attached to wires for safety. And of course the grand dance finale, which effervesced 300 dancers into thousands bubbling over the screen with the players themselves transmitting their unlimited — no, uncontrolled joy. Whatta way to go out of a movie1
As you might imagine, Boyle is being paged to direct any number of films — including one animated. But he’s said no to them all — for now. “Slumdog Millionaire” is a tough act to follow…
P.S. Small economic effect of the movie: we were so enveloped we went across the street to have our first Indian dinner. It, too, was delicious.