Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival
TORONTO -- Millions
finds Danny Boyle
, one of Britain's most stylish filmmakers, in a fanciful mood, open to a story about saints and miracles and the way a child's imagination can help sort out the mysteries of life. It's a modern-day fable told in semirealistic terms, only with the understanding that a boy can believe in miracles just as another might put his faith in a star athlete.
This Fox Searchlight release will need imagination in its marketing, for this is no easy sell in specialty venues. Critical reception may pay a large role in its boxoffice success.
In all his films, Boyle loves to take the view that reality is what you make of it. He's not a surrealist, but rather believes that film like dreams can transport us to realms not immediately apparent to the naked eye.
, scripted by 24 Hour Party People
writer Frank Cottrell Boyce
, we follow the emotional journey of two brothers, 7-year-old Damian (Alex Etel) and 9-year-old Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), who move to the suburbs in northern England with their dad (James Nesbitt) after their mom dies. Anthony is a practical-minded kid who covers up his emotions, but Damian is more of a dreamer. He has studied the lives of the saints and experiences visitations by several of his favorites, whose stories help him deal with life's perplexities.
When a large bag jammed with money falls off a train and virtually lands on top of Damian, he accepts this as a gift from God. Anthony says it's best not to tell Dad because of the taxes; the government will take 40%. Behind his brother's back, Damian goes on a rescue mission: He tries to give much of the money away to poor people.
Then the boys learn the money was actually stolen by a gang of thieves. This is a crushing blow to Damian since he can no longer consider the cash to be a gift from God. Soon one nasty-looking thief (Christopher Fulford
) comes looking for his loot. When Dad and his new girlfriend (Daisy Donovan
) learn of the money, the boys are disappointed that the adults show a more mercenary attitude toward the windfall.
Using digital effects and sharp camera angles and movements that treat the adult world as a kind of huge playground, Boyle maneuvers the fragile tale through a colorful, fairy-tale-like milieu. At times, style seems on the verge of triumphing over substance, but Boyle's firm hand and astute, natural acting by the two youngsters keep the film on track. And by avoiding sentimentality, Millions
emerges as a simple tale told with sympathy for a child's point of view.
Fox Searchlight and Pathe Features present in association with U.K. Film Council and BBC Films a Mission Pictures production
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Producer: Andrew Hauptman
Graham Broadbent, Damian Jones
Executive producers: Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken
, Duncan Reid
, David M. Thompson
Director of photography: Anthony Dop Mantle
Production designer: Mark Tildesley
Costumes: Susannah Buxton
Music: John Murphy
Editor: Chris Gill.
Damian: Alex Etel
Anthony: Lewis McGibbon
Ronnbie: James Nesbitt
Dorothy: Daisy Donovan
Man: Christopher Fulford
MPAA rating: PG-13
Running time -- 97 minutes