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Tonight's screening of Danny Boyle's Millions at the Toronto International Film Festival was the film's world premiere. Boyle was in attendance along with the two young stars of the film, and he introduced what obviously is a project that he feels very dear about.
Two young brothers in Manchester come across a gym bag overflowing with cash, British pounds, days before the bank of England switches over to the Euro.
Damian (Alex Etel) is a young philanthropist who spends his time learning (and daydreaming) about the saints. He believes the money, which seems to have fallen from the heavens, is a gift from God and wants to use the money to help the poor, while his older brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) is a hot-blooded capitalist who is already thinking of exchange rates, inflation, and the cost of property. He uses the money to buy the affection of his new classmates.
There are obvious parallels to be drawn with Boyle's first film Shallow Grave, (reviewed here) which also tells the story of a group of friends who find a mysterious surplus of cash, and the morals of what to do with it.
Millions, however, is like a feel-good retelling of Shallow Grave through the eyes of children. It's sweet without being saccharine, and it's altogether enjoyable. I was incredibly refreshed to see a movie with a situation like this not make the characters look bad for wanting to keep money that isn't theirs. This isn't a film that chastises the greedy or denounces the almighty dollar; it's one that celebrates the chance to make a difference in one's own life, and the lives of others.
I particularly enjoyed the fantasy elements in which Damian seeks advice from various saints who appear to him in visions that blur the line between imagination and spiritual visitation.
Screened in the gorgeously ornate Elgin theatre, the film garnered a standing ovation, which may only have been for the benefit the two young stars of the film, but I couldn't help but get a little emotional to see the two of them, standing beside their director and surrounded by audience members, cry at the outburst of love and applause from a room full of strangers after such a tender and affectionate movie.
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