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2006-03-30 13:09


Damian and Anthony are about as different as two young brothers can get. Damian, the younger brother, is a highly imaginative, deeply spiritual child with an almost unhealthy fascination for Catholic saints. Anthony on the other hand is a tough-minded pragmatist who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. With seven days to go before the UK converts to the Euro, a duffel bag stuffed with Pound notes tumbles from a passing train into Damian's cardboard fort. Anthony wants to spend the piles of cash on buying everything his heart desires, but Damian has other ideas.


Danny Boyle seems to have a taste for exploring human behaviour in unusual settings and situations - particularly those involving big bags full of money. His first feature film, the superb Shallow Grave, was a dark fable about the power of greed to drive ordinary people to awful deeds. Millions is, in many ways, a mirror image of that film - a magical fairy tale about the power of generosity and faith. A good deal of the film's magic flows from Boyle's consummate grasp and control of atmouspherics. He anchors the visuals of the film firmly within Damian's highly imaginative frame of reference, which invests every scene with a magical-reality and makes the ordinary seem extraordinary.

This, in turn, encourages us to lower our cynical defences and accept fabulous quirks like Damian's frequent conversations with long-dead saints. It also has the more subtle effect of slowly changing the way we see the bag of money. We may start out like Anthony, coveting the riches, but we end up like Damian, seeing the cash as gift from God meant to do good in the world.

But for all it's joys the Millions is also deeply flawed. It's worst sin is an inability to hold focus. It starts out well, drawing us into the brothers' dilemma, but seems to lose its way and begins to meander and muddle along. The introduction of a menacing train robber looking to recover his loot adds some tension, but there are still too many scenes that seem to have no narrative purpose. Another irritation is the increasingly heavy-handed political comment that creeps into the movie - souring a lot of the innocence that Damian invests it with. Yes, yes - we all know - helping poor people, good, spending money, bad. You don't have to hit people over the head with the moral for them to get it.

Even with these flaws Millions is undoubtedly one of the most likable and highly original films of the year. At the very least it manages something very rare in an industry dominated by mass-market Hollywood gloss - it is sweet and gentle without being cloying and sickly. It may not make the most of its potential, but Millions at 70% is still ten times better (and more interesting) than The Pacifier or Madagascar.

- Alistair Fairweather
A magical but muddled film about two young brothers who find a bag stuffed with money.

peter wilson 2005/07/28 12:59 PM
millions excellent! this is a must for wonderful heart warming scenes of our little hero/charactor, where did they find him?? The ending to is nicely tied up. then there is no swearing or foul language either, don't miss this really good british family movie........ YES - YES!
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