Millions (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/10/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Whimsical, quirky tale with strong performances from its two young leads and not-so-strong ones from Daisy Donovan and James Nesbitt.

What is it about Danny Boyle and bags of cash? Still, Millions may have a bag of cash at its centre but in other ways it marks a departure for Boyle, as it’s attempting to be a gentle comedy, part way between a children’s fantasy film and an old-fashioned Ealing-type comedy (only set in the North). As such, it definitely has its moments, though the casting of Daisy Donovan almost derails the entire enterprise.

Recent Bereavement Leads To Wealth Of Cash

Scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce, Millions stars Alex Etel and Lewis McGibbon as Damian and Anthony, two boys aged 8 and 10 who have recently lost their mother and have just moved into a new house with their father, Ronnie (James Nesbitt).

While Anthony discovers that the phrase, “My Mum has just died” allows him to get away with all sorts of things, Damian is quieter and becomes obsessed with saints and playing in his cardboard “hermitage”. However, the hermitage is by the train track and one day a huge bag of cash lands on it, almost squashing Damian into the bargain. Damian immediately decides the money is a gift from God, because, he reasons, who else would have that kind of money?

Damian decides that he wants to use the cash to help the poor and unfortunate. However, his money-savvy older brother has more immediate plans for it, including turning the playground into a black market and buying a house for his investment portfolio. At any rate, the boys discover that they have just seven days to spend the lot, because Britain is about to convert to the Euro. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the crooks who stole the money in the first place…

Cringeworthy Whenever Donovan Is On Screen

There’s something quite odd about Millions – for one thing, it occasionally feels a little too rushed and perhaps also a little too self-consciously whimsical for its own good. This isn’t helped by Boyle’s use of Amelie-like fantasy effects, such as speeded-up photography and so on.

On the plus side, Boyle coaxes great performances from his two young leads. Etel is extremely sweet, particularly in the scenes between him and his fantasy saints. James Nesbitt isn’t exactly awful, but his decision to ditch his familiar Northern Irish accent for a northern English one was ill-advised, because he frequently looks as if he’s expending all his energy just keeping his vowel sounds under control.

As for Daisy Donovan (as a school charity worker who falls for Ronnie), she just simply can’t act. Or rather, she can, but she can only act like Daisy Donovan and her limited repertoire of mad staring eyes and manic movements quickly wears thin here.

That said, although Millions has its fair share of flaws (including a seriously misguided final scene), it also has some genuinely original moments and the relationship between the two boys is both touching and convincing. On balance, this is still worth seeing – just be prepared to cringe whenever Donovan is onscreen.

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Millions (12A)
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Content updated: 13/12/2017 12:51

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