Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Alexander Nathan Etel, Lewis Owen
McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Enzo Cilenti
RunTime: 1 hr 37 mins
Released By: Golden Village
Date: 21 April 2005
North West of England, seven days before Britain will convert
to the Euro. Damian Cunningham (Alex Etel) and his older brother
Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) live with their Dad (James Nesbitt)
- their Mum's dead, as Anthony likes to remind people when
he needs an excuse, or a favour.
When a big bag of pounds sterling literally falls from the
sky, the pair decide the only course of action is to keep
schtum and spend it pronto. but a quarter of a million pounds
is a lot of money for two kids to spend in a week, and somewhere
the bag's owners must have missed it.
you’re thinking about Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting”
or “28 Days Later”, shelve those thoughts. Boyle’s
latest film “Millions” is a wonderful and energetic
film of surprising cheer, with a brilliant cast to match.
Filmed with delightful irreverence and brimming with imagination,
this is one family film sure to please adults and children
opens with beautiful scenes of the young boys’ neighbourhood.
We see brightly lit fields of endless greenery, houses of
such vibrant colours they seem to have leapt out of a painter’s
palette, a welcoming school of fun and games and a railway
track brought to life through whimsical fantasy. That is,
a world as seen through a child’s perspective, and a
pleasant one at that – who would have thought that Britain,
of apparent miserable weather and self-deprecating humour,
could be this dazzling?
young protagonist and indeed gem of “Millions”
would be Damian Cunningham, played by Alex Etel to beguiling
perfection. Etel makes a remarkable debut as freckled-face
Damian, the innocent dreamer who sees and talks to saints
as if they were his oldest friends ("The Ugandan martyrs
of 1881!"). He has a heart of untainted purity; Etel
does an excellent at conveying this while being impossibly
adorable yet never cloying. When a bag containing 265,000
pounds comes crashing into Damian’s outdoor playhouse,
he is distracted from his chat with St. Claire of Assissi
and immediately registers this as a gift from God. He wants
to give to the poor and continue this miracle by doing good
with the money but his 9 year-old brother Anthony, older and
wiser by default, has other ideas.
only dark aspect of “Millions” comes from the
creepy criminal who comes looking for his loot – far
from being an act of God, the bagful of cash is in fact the
result of an intricate robbery. The villain is as menacing
as he is real; it is as though Boyle were intolerant of Home
Alone type goofballs passing off as rogues. Fortunate then,
as the comparatively darker scenes are taut with tension and
dread, probably even capable of delivering the tiniest of
squirms in adults.
a doubt, “Millions” triumphs by focusing on the
children. Damian is innocent but painfully mature, his faith
so genuine and strong that he seems not unlike his saintly
counsels. Anthony (starring Lewis McGibbon, also making an
outstanding debut) is the cheeky devil to Damian’s angel,
at the same time endearing in his smart-alecky ways. The dialogue
is quick-witted and amusing in the way that children often
are, which is what makes the film so enjoyable to sit through.
Nothing is dumbed-down nor is anything contrived; the film,
in firmly respecting its audience, reminds us not of the blissfully
ill-fated naïveté of children, but of the true
wonders of childhood.
film is original despite treading on familiar territory. It
deals with children, mortality, morality and money, and is
definitely more sophisticated than it immediately seems. The
boys have recently lost their mother but appear to have moved
on. Yet, the nuanced hints of the boys’ (including their
father Ronnie’s) loneliness – Damian’s hopeful
inquiries about St. Maureen, Ronnie (James Nesbitt) surrounding
himself with pillows in bed and Anthony’s unfounded
dislike for Dorothy (Daisy Donovan), his father’s new
acquaintance, are poignant and affecting. The money merely
provides distraction and perhaps a certain joy, be it from
using it to help the needy or from indulgent splurging.
“Millions” is hardly about materialism. Neither
does it pit the kids against the adults, as many children-oriented
movies are wont to do. It is about the value of the less superficial,
as well as the weighty baggage of moral dilemma that comes
with money, especially when it’s not yours - a worthy
message, if perhaps too subtle for children in the audience.
No worries, though, for the adventure of the two boys will
be enough to occupy them.
is a delectable family movie that’s satisfying for both
adults and children because it manages real characters with
real issues in an unpredictable and imaginative way. It’s
no doubt a rarity in a genre overflowing with inane and farcical
flicks. Personally, the absurd and bizarre sequences of Damian’s
imagination were the most winning parts of the film, even
if they were too ludicrous; too phony; too nonsensical; too
far-fetched, for aren’t those the best parts about childhood?
A kaleidoscope of luscious colours and enchanting vision,
Boyle’s bold oddity and fantastical ingenuity no doubt
delivered this charmer.
by Angeline Chui