In the big cities, the movie "Millions" has been out for three months, garnering splendid reviews and word of mouth. Now, at last, we’ve got it – sort of. It’s showing on a single screen, wedged between Will Ferrel screaming and Paris Hilton getting impaled. Darth Vader is coming down the trench – if you want to see it, you’d better move quickly.
"Millions" is the story of seven year-old Damien and his eleven year-old brother Anthony. Their mother recently died, so they’re starting over in a newly minted Liverpool housing development. Over the rooftops is the silhouette of towering factories where the poor people are. But that’s another world.
Anthony teaches Damien a trick: if you tell adults your mom’s dead, they give you free stuff. Then he advises, "Lay off the weirdness, or you won’t fit in." But the invisible world is very real to Damien. He’s obsessed with the lives and deaths of the saints, and they actually visit him from time to time.
Damien drags empty cardboard boxes across a golden field. He makes a little house by the train tracks. He lies inside, gazing up through a makeshift skylight at the blue sky. He’s doing this when a duffel bag sails off a train and crushes the house. The bag opens like a flower. Inside are 230,000 British pounds.
Right away I thought of director Danny Boyle’s earlier film, "Shallow Grave." In that movie, some friends also find a bag of cash. Greed makes them destroy each other. Given Danny Boyle’s history with dark material, I half expected "Millions" to go there.
But no. Damien believes God has sent the money to help the poor. That’s not so easy for a seven year-old with half a million dollars to do. And in twelve days, England will convert to the euro, and all that sterling will be worthless. The police are asking questions, and so is an extremely scary man who’s lurking about.
Thankfully, St. Peter shows up with some advice for Damien: a recasting of the Biblical loaves and fishes miracle. In this telling, Jesus was giving a sermon to 5,000 hungry people. A boy offered some bread and fish, which Jesus passed to the crowd. As each person received the fish, he brought out a little food from his own pocket. He passed the untouched loaves and fishes to the next person. Everyone got fed. In Alex Etel, the filmmakers have found a little boy with a face so pure and radiant, you believe he could be that boy who inspired the 5,000.
A 2004 issue of Adbusters magazine said the Universe has three laws: everything’s connected to everything; everything’s got to go somewhere; and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. When you watch "Millions" – and I truly hope you will – think about those three laws, and the metaphor of water. If each man is a well, this movie primes the pump.
"Millions" is playing at Showplace East. This and other theater and music reviews are available online at wfiu.indiana.edu. Reviewing movies for WFUI, this is Peter Noble-Kuchera.