The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - SEVEN DAYS -

(2004) 12

Thurs­day, 11.35pm, BBC1

Danny Boyle, the British film-maker who is about to make his mark as the di­rec­tor of the Olympics open­ing cer­e­mony, can­not be ac­cused of get­ting stuck in a rut. With a back­ground in the­atre and TV, Boyle has worked in a va­ri­ety of gen­res. From his darkly comic de­but Shal­low Grave, about a group of flat­mates who em­bark on a greedy game of cat and mouse, to the lifeaf­firm­ing, Os­car-win­ning Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire, Boyle’s main cri­te­ria ap­pears to be a de­sire to tell a rip­ping yarn.

Mil­lions is an en­dear­ing mod­ern fa­ble about a young boy de­ter­mined to do the right thing. Still griev­ing for his mother, seven-year-old Damian (Alex Etel, left with Boyle), takes refuge in an or­nate den­cum-shrine he has built in the Cheshire coun­try­side. Out of the blue, his reverie is shat­tered when a suit­case full of bank notes comes crash­ing in, thrown from a pass­ing train.

Show­ing the bounty to his older brother An­thony (Lewis McGib­bon), Damian finds him­self at odds with his si­b­ling, who is keen to start spend­ing. Damian, an in­tro­verted and reli­gious boy wants to use the money to help oth­ers.

While An­thony starts to plan his climb up the so­cial lad­der, Damian uses it for small acts of kind­ness such as tak­ing tramps for pizza. Even­tu­ally, the boys re­alise that the money is stolen, and that the thieves will be com­ing for it.

Mil­lions is at its heart a cau­tion­ary tale about the temp­ta­tions of mam­mon, but while there is an in­no­cence to the film it is far from sani­tised. Boyle can never be ac­cused of mawk­ish­ness. Deal­ing with a pop­u­lar dilemma of the temp­ta­tion of easy money (we’ve all won­dered…), Boyle ex­plores it with in­tegrity and au­then­tic­ity. Val­ues he will, no doubt, bring to Fri­day’s Olympic ex­trav­a­ganza.

The story be­hind the film

Money fea­tures promi­nently in al­most all Boyle’s films, but he re­mains rel­a­tively un­touched. ‘I’m not very good with money, which helps, be­cause I don’t value it in the way some peo­ple value it. I don’t re­ally un­der­stand money or busi­ness, deep down, it’s just not in my na­ture.’ Si­mone An­drews

12.10AM, RTÉ ONE


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