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A Review of Millions 

In Millions, writ in primary colors and directed by Danny Boyle, two brothers find hundreds of thousands of pounds by a railroad track. One boy, Damian, thinks the money is from God and should be given to the poor, while his brother follows behind, trying to keep his generosity from endangering himself and others. Their different principles are always in conflict with each other. In the midst of this, saints appear to Damian, protecting him and giving him advice, though they are by no means traditional saints.  

St. Peter appears and says that when Jesus fed the five thousand, people actually had meat in their pockets, and that is why there was food left over. Moments like these in the film were stupid (in the words of Andrew Kern), and it’s hard to find something deeper in them. It is the same when Saint Clare of Assisi appears in a little boy’s house of boxes next to the train tracks, and when he questions her about smoking, says, “You can do anything you like up there. It’s on earth that you have to make the effort.” This could be called sacrilegious or humorous, but I found it to be neither.  

Millions is a lot of things, silly at some points—even crucial points—cliché at others, but also just a little beautiful and morally complex. The dilemma of what to do with a lot of money makes the story a little more than mindless and prompts the viewer to consider his own use of money. For what seems to be a small price in comparison to the gigantic sum the boys possess, they can build a well in Africa and drastically improve living conditions in a few villages. There are perhaps a couple moments throughout the film when the viewer is made to remember how little an amount of money sends relief to Third World countries, and Millions makes the reader consider the conflict between safety and unfettered generosity.  

Millions opens with two boys biking through yellow flowers. This, and a scene in which the boys let loose boxes of birds that they bought, show that the film is not unaware of the aesthetically pleasing. Yet soon after the opening, there is a cheesy scene of a house being built that looks like it could be from a child’s TV show. This juxtaposition of the important and the cartoonish characterizes the film.  

Millions is also not without symbolism. Soon after the beginning of the film, we see something in the sky that looks like the sun. Later, we see the same image in the night, like the star the wise men followed. In one revelatory scene, the star disappears and becomes a person. This use of motif added a level of a certain sort of depth to the film (even if not ultimate depth), allowing the viewer to feel like he was “in” on something.  

The score is like the early Harry Potter films, with a whimsical (though not necessarily in a good way) and even toy-like quality to it. It accurately reflects the mood of the rest of the film, but, like Millions’ depiction of saints, has nothing to recommend it.  

Perhaps the smartest choice made in the creation of Millions is its casting of child actors. The children knew how to fake cry, how to laugh, and how to enjoy things in the way that only a child can, such as when Damian looks out of the windows of his box fort at the trains coming by and feels their vibrations in pure child-like pleasure.  

At the end of all these considerations, the question remains as to whether the fact that Millions has a few moments of beauty and moral provocation makes it worth watching. And to be sure, there are certainly Christmas movies more worth watching, though they might be less “cute.” 

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