Review from the Vault: MILLIONS by Danny Boyle – one of my all time faves

Millions – one of my favourite films of all time that released in 2004 and I reviewed in 2008 – Danny Boyle is amazing!

Director Danny Boyle revisits a theme from his Shallow Grave and Trainspotting days – greed – but focuses on a much younger protagonist with this comedy drama.

 

Millions by Danny Boyle
Millions by Danny Boyle

Millions opens with recent widower Ronnie (James Nesbitt) moving his two precocious pre-pubescent sons to the suburbs. Missing his mother and the comforts of his old neighborhood, the young Damian (Alex Etel) builds a cardboard-box fort on the outskirts of the suburb, where one day his placid introvert existence is literally crushed by a giant gym bag full of thousands of pounds’ worth of cash. Less concerned with the origin of the money than with how to spend it, Damian and his older brother, Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), decide to keep it a secret from their father, which becomes an increasingly tricky proposition as the days pass. His conscience getting in the way of his spending, Damian debates the ethics of his ill-gotten gains with a handful of “imaginary” saints (or are they), and begins to try to spend his cash a little more altruistically. But his charitable deeds inadvertently attract the attention of a mysterious, threatening man who’s desperate to get his hands on the money. Marking a distinct change of pace for Boyle after the horror film 28 Days Later, Millions world-premiered at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide.

 

Millions by Danny Boyle
Millions by Danny Boyle

Personally I think this is Danny Boyle’s best work. While his other films are amazing and visual feasts none will capture your heart as much as this film. It’s a family film suitable for all to watch unlike the junkie glorified Trainspotting. Even members of biker’s gangs should watch this film to melt the hardened exterior. It’s funny, happy, sad and tells an amazing tale about the ethics and morals surrounding the goodness in everyone’s heart. It pleases the religious sectors of the planet and deals with Saints and the belief in religion with love and I applaud it. It is a plea for world aid to assist with water crisis in Africa. It is a children’s adventure tale and a family film and I think it should be compulsory viewing for EVERY school child.

 

Millions by Danny Boyle
Millions by Danny Boyle

Alex Etel is astounding as the young “angel/ saint in the making”, Damian. His acting ability is academy award deserving. You may recognise him as the lead in The Water Horse film from earlier this year. In Millions you buy into his world and want to be a part of it, he delivers plenty of touching emotional moments and a respect for goodness in human nature. He is the saint he is looking for and someone we should all aspire to be more like. The rest of the cast is great but Alex was a one in a million find and YES pun intended. Hehe

The film also boasts an amazing soundtrack with music by The Clash, Muse, Vangelis, Feeder and El Bosco. The cinematography is beautiful and the limited special effects compliment the film. One thing I also love – it’s an English film and is missing the pretentious US coating common in the majority of commercial films.

 

Millions by Danny Boyle
Millions by Danny Boyle

 

Trivia: (thankyou IMDB) 1) The book that Damien reads and references throughout the film is called “Six O’Clock Saints”. Popular in the UK in the 1950s, it is surprising that any parent would give a copy to their child, as the director points out, since it contains all the gruesome stories that Damien tells in class, plus many more. Its inclusion is a sort of homage to Martin Scorsese, who, according to Boyle, has cited it in interviews as one of his favorite books growing up and that it gave him a wider understanding of the human experience than had been revealed to him as a child. 2) According to the director, one of the actors who play the martyrs of Uganda claimed to be a descendant of the real martyrs of Uganda of 1881. 3) Instead of making cast and crew T-shirts, production donated the money to Water Aid, to build a well in Africa (like the family did in the film).

 

Millions by Danny Boyle
Millions by Danny Boyle

 

Drop your linen and stop that grinning and do yourself a favour and run out and rent this heartwarming film that will keep you warm without the heater. It’ll make you smile and be nicer for a day I promise. Worth 10/10 Smoking Saints. And PS: I watched it with Mum and she gives it a two thumbs up!