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Millions (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's Commentary. Deleted Scenes. Four Minute Feature (Danny Boyle's 4 minute edit of the film). Audition Footage. Short Film 'Badgered'. Robbery Featurette. Saints Featurette. UK Theatrical Trailer and TV spots. Water Aid information.

NO MATTER what genre he is working in, British director Danny Boyle always seeks to bring a distinct vision to his films.

Hence Millions, a heart-warming tale of two brothers who happen upon a bag full of lost cash, functions on several levels - part-fantasy, part social commentary, part thriller and part tragedy.

It may be prone to some sentimental excess but on the whole it's a fascinating and frequently amusing little film that's probably more geared towards adults and any older children in the family.

Set around Christmas, in the days before England is about to switch to the Euro, the film focuses on seven-year-old Damian (Alex Etel) and his older, more worldly-wise brother, Anthony (Lewis McGibbon), as they attempt to begin a new life for themselves with their father (James Nesbitt) following the untimely death of their mother.

For Damian, especially, the transition is a difficult one, especially since he is prone to seeing visions of saints.

Yet when a bag of money mysteriously lands near the retreat he has built for himself on wasteland near a railway line, the imaginative youngster immediately believes it to be a gift from heaven.

Enlisting the help of his brother, Damian resolves to help the poor of his neighbourhood, while Anthony resolves to spend as much as he can before the currency becomes worthless.

Yet their resolve is put to the test when the 'owner' of the cash comes calling and it turns out that the windfall was part of the takings from an elaborate heist.

To complicate matters still further, Damian's decision to donate a sizeable amount of cash to an African appeal at school lands him in hot water with his teachers, while presenting his father with a potential new love-interest in the form of a local charity worker (Daisy Donovan).

Hence, the brothers must outwit the robbers who want their money back, while facing the inevitable changes that will shape the rest of their lives.

For the most part, Millions is a hugely enjoyable movie that is boosted by some excellent performances from all concerned, as well as some well-judged direction from Boyle.

It could so easily have become mawkish and silly, yet Boyle avoids the temptation to do so by keeping his eye on the inherent tragedy of the boys' predicament.

Viewers know it's only a matter of time before Damian has to confront his feelings for his lost mother and when he does, the sequence is guaranteed to touch the heart.

Yet along the way, Boyle is careful not to become too heavy-handed, injecting proceedings with plenty of offbeat humour, some genuine moments of tension and a little satire at the expense of today's consumer-driven society.

He also draws memorable performances from both Etel and McGibbon, who never appear too precocious or sappy.

Indeed, the only real criticism is that the film is one scene too long, overdosing on the sentiment and striking the film's only false note.

But for that, Millions is a charming experience - both funny and poignant - that deserves to find its own windfall at the box office.


 

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