We went to see a sneak preview of the latest film by director Danny Boyle this evening. It’s called Millions. At first glance, it seems about as far from 28 Days Later as one could get. It is based on a children’s book by Frank Cottrell Boyce about a pair of brothers who find a suitcase full of bank notes and their need to spend it before an imaginary Christmas deadline wherein all British pounds will be converted to Euros making the wad of old cash worthless.
Complicating the situation, the younger brother, Damian (played brilliantly by 9-year-old newcomer, Alex Etel), is a bit detached from reality. In coping with the recent death of his mother, the boy has buried himself in the study of saints. He’s a saint geek, spouting off detailed facts about their lives, which does not exactly endear him to his classmates. Not only that, but he sees and converses with several sainty visions (including St. Nicholas, St. Peter, St. Francis of Assissi and St. Clare). While older brother, Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), wants to spend the money on as much stuff as possible, Damian keeps finding ways of giving it away to the poor.
I say that it departs from Boyle’s work like 28 Days Later and Trainspotting, but only in the fact that this is a heartwarming, feel-good movie (I really think it should have come out at Christmas time). There is plenty of Boyle’s distinctive camera work, a little bit of terror (when the thief who stole the money shows up to claim it), and, like the others, it is very, very British. In fact, it’s almost a kids’ version of his 1994 film Shallow Grave. This is not a Hollywood flick at all, and we’re all the better off for it.
The simple morality of the story and the incredibly precious performance of Etel make this a very sweet, funny movie. Boyle’s sense of style and edginess (just) keep it from being too sweet.