What would happen if the innocence of a child was all of sudden faced with the responsibility and corruption of more money than he could possibly imagine?
Director Danny Boyle, who also brought us Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, asks that very question when two young brothers, Anthony and Damian, come across a duffel bag full of British pounds. Initially, the brothers decide to seek out poor people and share their good fortunes. But who is more deserving?
Their good fortunes get more complicated when the nation begins its countdown to switch over to the incoming Euro and it is discovered that the money was stolen in an elaborate railway heist. What is to be done with all that loot?
Danny Boyle is one of those directors that keeps shocking me with every film he makes. Sure, he has also had his share of failures like The Beach and A Life Less Ordinary, but even in his failures he still asks questions and challenges the viewer. But then, if you look at how different his successes are like the fore-mentioned Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, then you can see that he is becoming an adaptive director who takes challenges head on. It is because of this boldness and unflinching exploration that I think Danny Boyle could become one of the greatest directors working today.
In Millions, Boyle is able to restrain his dark intentions and focus on the innocence of the film's central character Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel). Through that focus, we begin to see Damian's world, and that is accented with his fascination with Catholic Saints. It truly is amazing how Boyle is able balance the light and the dark throughout the film. A lot of filmmakers usually forgo the balance in a film's third act to bring clarification, tension, or joy for the conclusion. Boyle finds a new way to maintain the balance.
I really enjoyed the wide-eyed innocence of Alexander Nathan Etel. This little guy is an absolute treasure to watch and has such undying magnetism on screen. He is brilliant.
I also really enjoyed the performance of James Nesbitt, who plays the father of the brothers, Anthony and Damian. Nesbitt is the central adult figure in the picture that eventually has to be told about the fortune. Then you get to see the difference between how an adult sees the money and a child.
Millions is told as a fable and the film accents a lot of these aspects through its magical telling. From the brightness of colors to the appearances of the saints, Millions also builds on the magical aspect of what a fable really is.
Millions is one of the best family films to come out in a very long time. It is truly the first great film of 2005. (5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.