A Review by
Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)
After the death of their mother, 9-year-old
Anthony is ever practical, while his 7-year-old brother Damian
uses imagination, fantasy, and faith to make sense of his confusing
world. When a suitcase full of money falls out of the sky at Damian's
feet, it sets the boys on the adventure of a lifetime and leads
them to realize that true wealth has noting to do with money.
1hr 37min - Rated PG - Drama/Comedy
How often do you
find cameo appearances by such saints as Francis
and Claire, Nicholas, Peter, Joseph, and even the Ugandan martyrs,
in a current movie? (Alas, no Dominicans!) The film is Millions,
an independent British film that’s generating a lot of buzz.
Millions is the story of two boys and their recently widowed father
who move to a new home. After having to adjust to the loss of their
mother, seven year old Damian and his nine year old brother Anthony
also have to adjust to a new home and a new school. Damien has a
vivid imagination, and a devotion to the saints. His encyclopedic
knowledge of the saints is an embarrassment to his father, Ronnie,
and Andrew. Frequently the saints appear to Damian, freely chatting
about life and death.
One day Damian is
sitting in a large moving box by the railroad tracks having a
nice talk with St. Claire (patron saint of television, I learned!),
when, out of nowhere, a Nike bag stuffed with money comes crashing
down on him. Damian considers this a gift from heaven, and takes
the money home. He and Andrew hide it from Ronnie (so we wouldn’t
have to pay taxes on it, according to the ever practical Andrew),
and then try to determine what to do with 250,000 pounds. St.
Francis appears to tell Damian to give it to the poor. Damian
learns that this is not as easy as it sounds. In a wonderful scene,
he takes a group of “poor” people he meets to a restaurant
to treat them to pizza! Andrew thinks it would be better to invest
in real estate. Meanwhile, the boys learn about a robbery in a
nearby city, and encounter a suspicious man searching for something
near the tracks. They surmise that the money probably wasn’t
from heaven after all.
Millions is the rare film that takes the viewer
into a child’s world without being condescending or saccharine.
Damian, Andrew and Ronnie are all trying to deal with their own
grief, while moving on. Ronnie, who claims to believe in nothing,
begins a relationship with Dorothy, a kind, understanding woman.
Andrew resents her, and Damian turns to his saints for comfort.
He asks each saint if they have met a new one, named Maureen (his
Mother’s name). Claire answers sweetly that the name doesn’t
ring a bell. When Damian is disappointed, she assures him not
to worry: “It’s infinite you know. And everyone is
welcome.” In a moving ending, the boys are able to come
to resolution over their mother’s death. They realize they
don’t have to worry about her. However, missing her “is
permissible.” And that all that money “just gets in
the way.” Damian solves the dilemma of the money in an ingenious
way that will benefit others.
Director Danny Boyle walks the fine line between
mysticism and reality. Millions is full of clever and humorous
touches. For example, when Damian has to leave the Christmas play
suddenly, St. Joseph subs for him, playing himself! The humor
is balanced with the search for hope and faith in the midst of
devastating personal loss. My only reservation is the depiction
of the robber. He is far too overbearing, complete with a black
stocking cap and heavy breathing that sounds like Darth Vader.
This character seems to have wandered in from another movie.
Millions will appeal to the searcher in us all.
It will reaffirm our belief that the communion of saints is ever-present,
and particularly close to those who mourn.
Tom Condon, OP