Millions Movie Review
Director Danny Boyle is known for wildly imaginative visualsin innovative, gritty-cool movies about murderers ("Shallow Grave"),junkies ("Trainspotting")and zombies ("28 Days Later"), so what's he doing makinga sweet, sentimental kids' movie? Virtually reinventing another genre,of course.
In "Millions," an angel-faced 7-year-old Irishboy named Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel) finds a duffle bag full of bankrobbery loot, but thanks to his youthful naivete, his faith in saints thatwatch over him, his run-away imagination and the fact that the bag literallyfell from the sky, he assumes the booty is a gift from God.
"Who else has that kind of money?" he asks innocentlyof his more practical 9-year-old brother, who wants to keep the discoveryhush-hush and invest in real estate. But altruistic Damian sets about ona mission: He resolves to help the poor, excitedly buying pizza for homelessteenagers, secretly stuffing cash in the mailbox of austere-living Mormonneighbors, and anonymously donating £1,000 to an African charity fund atschool.
The story takes place during an as yet fictional time justbefore Great Britain converts from the pound to the euro, putting a timelimit on the value of Damian's treasure and making especially dangerousthe robbers who inevitably come seeking their lost plunder. But this settingand Damian's rich fantasy life also afford Boyle some creative licensethat he puts to delightful use.
Seen from the boy's hopeful yet melancholy perspective(he has recently lost his mother), the suburban-subdivision world of "Millions"is a bright and colorful place of escapism, where cardboard boxes becomeimaginary rocket ships before your eyes and friendly visits from Damian'sfavorite saints -- complete with halos that spin off-center like gyroscopes-- are a regular occurrence. By deftly coupling these touches of magicalrealism with an astute use of Etel's earnestly wide-eyed (if not quitenatural) acting, Boyle creates a movie that is curiously creative, genuinelyheartwarming and wistful -- without being even a little a bit sappy.
While "Millions" holds on to this air of miraculouswonder throughout, it does lose a tad of integrity with two last-minutedevelopments that are dishonest to the spirit of the film. One is a feel-goodcheat that conveniently absolves Damian of his most difficult emotionsand the other seemingly contradicts the money-isn't-everything moral ofthe story. But even with its undercutting shortcomings, the picture's droll,whimsical charm is irresistible.