Publicity Stills of "Millions"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Drama
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
Rating: PG

Release Date: 21 April 2005

Synopsis :

The 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.

Movie Review:

If 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 alike.

“Millions” 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?

The 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.

The 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.

Without 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.

The 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.

Yet, “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.

“Millions” 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.

Movie Rating: A

Review by Angeline Chui

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