Welcome to the dilemma in which Damien (Alexander Nathan Etel) and Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) find themselves after moving to a developing British subdivision with their father (James Nesbitt) shortly after their mother passes away. Damien discovers the loot one afternoon as he watches trains pass while inside his homemade cardboard box hut. A spiritual young lad obsessed with famous saints, Damien believes the money is a gift from God; therefore, he wants to give it to charities and poor people. When Anthony finds out about the money, however, he has other ideas for the money...
Kids, rejoice! Millions marks director Danny Boyle's (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) first major endeavor into family-oriented territory (though it does feel strange watching such innocence from a director who's most famous for films about ravenous zombies, beach sex, and cocaine addicts). Though, despite the new territory, Boyle handles the material beautifully, never allowing the film to become too juvenile for adults or too morally complicated for children; Millions is an all-around audience pleaser -- a thought-provoking delight. Boyle proves he doesn't need drugs, violence, or sex to make a film that packs quite a punch.
Relatively novice actors Alexander Nathan Etel and Lewis Owen McGibbon portray Damien and Anthony, and they are quite effective in their roles, which further demonstrates Boyle's resolute ability to mold actors. Boyle gives the film a sense of urgency through the currency exchange predicament and the presence of a manipulative thief, yet Etel and Lewis give their characters a sense of casual curiosity. Millions eludes wonder and imagination because it is seen primarily through the eyes of these children, who are old enough to understand the moral dilemmas of their situation, but too young to understand its gravity. It's an interesting effect.
Ultimately, the heart of Millions is a gourmet dish in the midst of a cheap Sunday buffet. Boyle, directing a script by Frank Cottrell Boyce (24 Hour Party People), allows the plate to become overcrowded with subplots. With all the chatter about the diseased mother, the father's love life, suspicious charities, famous saints, a pesky thief, relocation, Christmastime burglaries, and more, it's hard to focus on the most appetizing part of the story. Not that the subplots are aimless. They do develop a satisfying narrative, and certainly don't make for boring fodder.
Even at a mere 97 minutes, however, Millions would be a trillion times more engaging with some additional editing (cutting a few scenes with the obnoxious, advice-giving saints would work wonders). Though, Boyle won't disappoint his fans, which will more than likely commend him for trying something different from his previous projects. He's taking a risk here... and isn't that what filmmaking is all about?
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th April 2005
Box Office USA: $6.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $6.6M
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Production compaines: Mission Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 138 Rotten: 20
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriter: Frank Cottrell Boyce