Lim's view is, I think, overstated (as befits a former Village Voice ideologue-critic) but corresponds most closely to my reservations about the film: that its splashy, exuberant style and the more horrendous scenes of poverty and child exploitation are a queasily awkward fit. This is not a political objection but a nagging doubt about Boyle's sensitivity. That doubt, and the central deficit of a somewhat inexpressive leading man, kept the (splendidly staged) finale from being quite the emotional lift off for me that it has been for others.
Possible "inspirations" I haven't seen mentioned: Rohinton Mistry's great novel A Fine Balance, for the scenes of organized beggars deliberately mutilated to make them more effective, and Anurag Kashyap's dogged docudrama Black Friday, for its breakneck, hand-held chases through the Dharavi slums. LA Weekly review here. (One of the sources Boyle and Slumdog screenwriter Simon Beaufoy have acknowledged is Suketu Mehta's excellent book Maximum City, which covers many of the same events as Black Friday.)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009