4.03.2005

Millions

Danny Boyle is best known for outrageous tales told from preternatural perspectives. In “Trainspotting” (1996) he created unforgettable images and emotions, pushing the limits with his visual expression of a heroine user trying to kick the habit. In “28 Days Later” (2002), Boyle successfully creates an atmosphere of horror and fear with the scenery of an impressionist paintings. Now in “Millions” (2004), Boyle stays consistent with his visual artistic style in an imaginative exploration of a child’s world that every child will enjoy.

“Millions” is a simple story about two children, Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel) and Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon), who have lost their mother. They move with their father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt), to a newly developed track home area in a new part of the city. Each child deals with the change in different ways. Damian escapes reality by delving into his imagination, usually occupied with patron saints. These saints guide Damian like a parent on what is morally acceptable.

Having imaginary friends of the spiritual nature tends to separate a child from the rest of the gang. While other kids are idolizing famous soccer players, Damian is modeling himself after spiritual figures. An oddball, Damian is an outcast on the playground. You won’t find him playing with giant, red, bouncing balls and hula-hoops; he’s an introverted philosopher.

One day while St. Clare of Assisi drops by for a chat and a smoke, a bag full of money crashes into Damian’s cardboard fort. Anthony, who takes on life from a non-emotional perspective, wants to buy cool expensive things with the money. Damian, on other hand, wants to be compassionate and give the money to the poor. What you get is a philosophical and moral dilemma influenced by Catholic beliefs compared to more realistic, modern ideals.

Unlike his other films, Boyle has directed and constructed an emotionally, heart-felt piece. He creates a visual interpretation of Damian’s psyche that leads to greater depth in the film that adults will find pleasing. The use of saints are an effective story-telling tool in that they replace the normal position of the parent or adult and act as an extension to the child. Damian becomes a guided existentialist. Although saints are founded in Catholicism, screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce focuses on the mythological and outrageous stories surrounding these saints and emphasizes the moral value that is to be taken from them. People from all religions or perspective backgrounds are not expected to be offended or turned-off.

Just like Damian’s uncertainty of his own reality, fantasy and realism are difficult to decipher at times. This makes the film more magical and more enjoyable, accomplishing what films like “Because of Winn Dixie” have attempted but failed.

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