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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 30.26%
Just Average: 5.26%
Pretty Crappy: 1.32%
Sucks: 2.63%

8 reviews, 28 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Danny Boyle & company continue to delight and amaze."
5 stars

It's intriguing how <I>Millions</I> in some ways represents Danny Boyle's career coming full circle after a tumultuous ten years, even as it demonstrates what a versatile filmmaker he has become (or, really, has always been). Looking at his early collaborations with John Hodge and Ewan MacGregor, the idea of a warm, family-friendly Boyle movie seems an unlikely one. Still, once you get past the age and innocence of the main characters, familiar motifs may seem familiar - a bag of money, contention among the people who find it, and sharp, witty, suspenseful direction.

The money falls from the sky, crushing the structure eight-year-old Damian (Alex Etel) has made from boxes discarded by people moving into a new housing development. Damian is smart enough to recognize that he has an active fantasy life, having taken to conversing with deceased saints since his mother's death, so he asks his older brother Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) to verify that the money is, in fact, real. It is, and Anthony quickly starts formulating plans on how to spend or invest the money (I idly wondered if writer Frank Cottrell Boyce was inspired by the "Great Brain" young adult novels by John D. Fitzgerald in creating these characters). The first catch is that the money is all pounds, and Britain will be switching to the Euro on Christmas Day. The second is that, as Anthony deduces later, the money is stolen, and honest, trusting Damian accidentally points people in his direction.

The stolen-money storyline, though, mostly exists to give structure. The boys are still mourning their mother, and in many ways, the movie is about how they handle it. Damian asks if she's arrived in Heaven whenever he turns to one of his imagined saints for guidance, and the very fact that he's conjuring them up and immersing themselves in their history suggests a peculiar interest in death and the afterlife. Anthony, on the other hand, notes that by mentioning her death, people will give him things or let him out of trouble. At first, it looks like Damian's cracking up and Anthony's just a mercenary little brat, but note how they react when their father (James Nesbitt) starts spending time with Dorothy (Daisy Donovan), a neighbor who they met at school. It points to a more nuanced perspective, that Damian understands and accepts his loss, just wanting assurance that things are okay, while Anthony is still full of anger and expects the world to somehow make things right.

Boyle and Boyce, along with their cast, give us believable kids, rather than small adults or too-precious moppets. Damian is throughly adorable, but he's not particularly wise beyond his years; his altruistic nature is more the result of naivete than insight. And while Anthony could have been one of those small adults, with his quoting financial figures, Lewis McGibbon plays him as having read up and being good at long division, there are obvious gaps in his knowledge. He also shows the frustration of being a kid whom adults don't take seriously, as well as nailing the mix of annoyance and concern when his little brother gets into trouble.

The adults are also good, though less important. Nesbitt is kind of an ideal movie dad, and a great foil for the kids (the look on his face and delivery of his line when Anthony figures out an ingenious way to convert some of the money without being red-flagged or waiting in a long line is priceless). Christopher Fulford is thoroughly menacing as a thief out to recover the stolen money, while Pearce Quigley manages to be both disarmingly honest and patronizing as the local policeman who sees his job as little more than handing out crime ID numbers so that burgled homeowners can file an insurance claim.

What really stands out is the kids-eye view Boyle creates. Sometimes it's done with optical effects, like the stop motion animation of the housing development going up; sometimes its done with the lighting and music used to make Fulford look as sinister as he would to an grammar-schooler. Most impressively, though, is when Boyle just gets the camera down at Etel's eye-level and shows us how the world seems to him. Connected boxes can become a house, or a train, or a rocket by sheer imagination, and Boyle shows a knack for highlighting the specific details that inspire Damian so that we can play along.

The kids coming to see this movie won't know anything about Shallow Grave or 28 Days Later or the rest of Danny Boyle's filmography that makes a movie like this somewhat unexpected; to them, it's just a good movie. That it highlights Danny Boyle as a more versatile filmmaker than previously suspected is a bonus.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10622&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/02/05 13:47:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/05/19 Suzanne Alex Etel is astounding; this movie always makes me cry. 5 stars
8/23/08 AnnieG Excellent! Enjoyable film for all ages. Makes a nice Christmas gift. 4 stars
5/29/07 Bob crap 1 stars
4/15/07 fools&#9835;gold Very interesting; reaches the heights of the same director's Shallow Grave. 5 stars
2/01/07 billium good film were studying it in RE att school because of its religius morals ect.. 4 stars
4/02/06 robbo kept kids quiet 4 stars
1/08/06 Quigley had some very moving scenes and the kid was amazing, but it was a little confusing 4 stars
12/07/05 Phil M. Aficionado A truly silly little concoction. Can't bring myself to give the kids one star, but..... 2 stars
9/16/05 Green Gremlin A nice change from Hollywood schmaltz !!! 5 stars
8/25/05 EZ Blow up this movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
7/17/05 Captain Craig A feel good movie that really works! Wonderful entertainment. Hollywood take note! 5 stars
7/16/05 what the this guy is an idot, UK is certainly NOT moving to the Euro for a good few years yet! 3 stars
6/20/05 Agent Sands Not only one of the best films of the year, but one of the best family films of all time! 5 stars
6/19/05 Sean Lane Nice seeing yet another Danny Boyle movie. This one is better than the last. A lot. 5 stars
6/08/05 b landers Good movie. 4 stars
6/05/05 jcjs wow 5 stars
5/17/05 Neon Good movie worth viewing 4 stars
5/01/05 Teri CUTE 5 stars
4/06/05 Elizabeth S Charming! Alex Etel is wonderful! 4 stars
3/30/05 Nick Boyd A touching movie with two wonderful lead performances 4 stars
3/24/05 malcontent Believe it or notm Boyles seems in his element here 4 stars
3/02/05 Jason Smith A fun, vibrantly filmed movie with much less sentimentality than expected. 4 stars
2/27/05 Barry Appleby Only Eire switched to the Euro not the UK 3 stars
10/19/04 Colette The film was ok 3 stars
9/19/04 denny very different from any thing done earlier by boyle; not sure who will be the audience 3 stars
9/19/04 christine heath an amazing film, with two charming new stars 5 stars
9/14/04 MM Weird and wonderful 5 stars
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  11-Mar-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Nov-2005



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