Friday, April 08, 2005

Millions - Movie Review


What the hell are the director of “Trainspotting” and the writer of “Welcome to Sarajevo” doing creating a modern day children’s fable? Well, we’ll tell you. They are creating one of the best films of the year, and a potential classic. That’s how good this flick is. While we have enjoyed director Danny Boyle’s frenetic outings in the past, we had no idea that his flamboyant visual flare would lend itself so charmingly to a child eyes view of the miraculous.

Two small boys, who have recently lost their mother are blindsided by an apparent gift from the heavens. A suitcase filled with money which literally lands on their cardboard playhouse. Their adventure in dealing with their windfall is the centerpiece of this magical tale. Together with their hard working widowed father, and a saucily endearing social worker named Dorothy – they find themselves eluding the local constabulary, curious chums, the pending financial European Union changeover and a prowling menace who is in desperate search of the missing loot.

As the youngest child, Alex Etel is a marvelous discovery. He lives in a make believe world, obsessed with his book of Saints – who he is able to manifest at the most opportune moments. His performance is the genius of one so young. Completely believable in his make believe daydreams, he will break your heart at the least likely moment. We pray he can avoid the pitfalls of other child actors and wish him well in his future endeavors. Lewis McGibbon has a terrific time as the elder brother obsessed with his newfound financial security. As the parental figures, James Nesbitt provides a solid center as the caring and incredulous father – and Daisy Donovan is simply wonderful as the social worker who insinuates herself into their lives. Kudos also to Pearce Quigley as the permanently stoic policeman who is always up for a good cup of tea and biscuits.

The simplicity of the plot, coupled with the fantastic elements blends effortlessly. While we are not normally fans of the frenetic editing and slap dash filmmaking of most modern directors, Danny Boyle has a particular knack for pulling it off. Even in his lesser films such as “The Beach”, his fine eye and dashing camerawork often proved to be blessings. We first noticed his skill with his macabre twist on thrillers, “Shallow Grave.” His most assured work since then has been the aforementioned “Trainspotting” and his paean to George A. Romero – “28 Days Later.” We have always enjoyed his enthusiasm for the medium and his breakneck directing style which manages to incorporate the storyline while indulging in visual pyrotechnics. (Side note: Speaking of George A. Romero – would you all please go rent his most underrated flick – “Knightriders” – yes, it’s “Easy Rider” meets “Excalibur” and it’s one of our guilty pleasures.)

With “Millions”, Danny Boyle proves himself capable of directing a genuine modern classic. Or at least, the possible classic that time alone will define. His graceful handling of the text, coupled with his cinematically bombastic style has found the perfect venue in this fable for the ages. The very atmosphere is magical. A true accomplishment in any time, this is one of those wonderful films that pulls off the near impossible. Charming child actors, an interesting adult angle to the plot and a visual style that perfectly compliments the goings on.

Kudos to all concerned. Notably the fine cast highlighted by the dashing duo of youngsters portraying the leads. A terrific feel and pace to the film, compliments of director Danny Boyle. A magical and winning script by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Truly one of the best films of this or any year. We would go on and on and on, but we wouldn't want to spoil the magical charms of this brilliant little flick. We strongly urge you to run out and see “Millions.” For what good are movies if they cannot transport you and carry you away to a world of make believe? Bless you all!

Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Alex Etel as Damian
Lewis McGibbon as Anthony
Leslie Phillips as Himself
James Nesbitt as Ronni
Daisy Donovan as Dorothy
Christopher Fulfurd as The Man
Pearcy Quigley as Community Policeman
Jane Hogarth as Mum
Alun Armstrong as St. Peter
Enzo Cilenti as St. Francis
Nasser Memarzia as St. Joseph
Kathryn Pogson as St. Clare
Harry Kirkham as St. Nicholas

Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle
Film Editing by Chris Gill
Costume Design by Susannah Buxton
Original Music by John Murphy
Production Design by Mark Tildesley
Art Direction by Denis Schnegg