A review of “Millions” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG for mildly adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

 

 

Danny Boyle flaunts his diverse talent by eschewing his traditional edge (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and tackling the lighter side of family values with infectious whimsy.

Two young boys living in anonymous English suburbia pine for their lost mum and count on their loving dad (James Nesbitt) and their vivid imaginations to keep them afloat.  Freckle-faced Damian (Alex Etel) is a pip, blessed with a simple faith that manifests itself in sweet conversations with imaginary Saints. Older bro Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) is heading into that awkward stage.

When a canvas bag full of money flies from the skies and lands on Damian’s ramshackle playhouse it seems like a gift from god. In reality it’s the substantial take from a series of local bank robberies that has fallen from a speeding train (the boys none the wiser).

The brothers swear each other to secrecy and stash the cash with the intention of using it solely for good deeds. Damian can’t keep a good thing to himself, subtly spreading the word of his newfound wealth by offering poverty-stricken strangers generous shopping sprees and hot meals.  Anthony’s response is more self-serving – showing off to his blokes and generally making an adolescent spectacle of himself.

Etel steals the show with one of the year’s most sparkling debuts. His imagination takes flight thanks to a healthy sprinkling of pixie-dust; spirited, fanciful and refreshing.

The flawed climax slightly diminishes the valuable lessons learned along the way; of the burden of obligation and life in the big picture.  Visuals are saturated in vibrant color and the narrative packaged with Boyle’s stylish technique, lending an evocative charm and an aura of childlike virtue.