Review in a Hurry: This spacious meld of old, old-school Hollywood and traditional Indian saga slathered with just a pinch of Bollywood ought to have enough spice and romance for the suburbs.
The Bigger Picture: English director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) deliver both a fairy tale and an accurate portrait of Bombay: It's a raving mad spire of commerce sprung from slums and the commercial capital of India as well as a nuclear superpower whose dead are still left in its great river Ganges.
Eighteen-year-old romantic Jamal (Dev Patel), an angel of the gutter, slings tea for a telemarketing company. In flashback, we discover his youth, filled with horror, as well as a thuggish older brother, Salim (Madhur Mittal) and the love of his life, Latika (Freida Pinto). But has his life on the streets taught him enough to score big on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, once he's landed a spot on the show? Prem (Anil Kapoor), the megalomaniacal host doesn't think so, and has Jamal arrested on suspicion of fraud. As during the competition, we see Jamal flashing back on his life during the interrogation.
Drawing from traditional Indian sagas like The Mahabarata and based on a novel by Vikas Swarup, Slumdog is a romance at heart. Jamal's unrepentant love for Latika forms the backbone of the story, and though familiar Bollywood faces abound, it's not a Bollywood picture. Tthe story is conventionally Hollywood enough for American moviegoers, yet the exotica of its location will no doubt boost tourism for the subcontinent.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Romantic? Yes. Pastoral? Yes. Sumptuously shot and terribly engaging, it will no doubt be an Oscar contender.