Danny Boyle gives us 21st-century Dickens by way of India. Giddier than A Life Less Ordinary, grimier than Trainspotting, more horrifying – in a real-world way – than 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire takes your breath away before you get a chance to suck it in. Set in contemporary Mumbai, the picture opens on 18-year-old Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a penniless orphan who grew up homeless yet has somehow managed to be on the verge of winning millions on an Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” With each trivia question, the picture flashes back to an earlier time in Jamal’s tragicomic life, revealing the extraordinary education that lead to his knowledge of the answers. The most arresting parts of the film immerse us in the slums of Jamal’s youth, though not via a Sally Struthers-type guilt trip. Instead, the picture recognizes both the misery and the vitality of life in Mumbai’s poorest areas. As Boyle’s camera rushes through cramped, dirty alleys chasing after his young cast, he turns a depressing milieu into artistic delirium. With dynamic cinematography and fantastic framing, he captures the youthful exuberance of these kids – which of course makes the horrors awaiting them all the harder to bear.