STARRING: Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Christopher Fulford, Pearce Quigley, Jane Hogarth, Alun Armstrong, Enzo Cilenti, Nasser Memarzia, Kathryn Pogson, Harry Kirkham, Cornelius Macarthy, Kolade Agboke and Leslie Phillips
Ethics, being human and the soul come to the fore when a 7-year old finds a bag of Pounds just days before the currency is switched to Euros and learns what we are really made of.
Millions has us following the Cunningham family who have recently moved to Widnes after the death of their mother/wife. During this time, the UK is about to switch its currency from Pounds to Euros. No sooner have they moved into their new home, Damian’s shelter at the railway tracks is wrecked by a bag of money flung from a passing train. Damian immediately shows the money to his brother, Anthony, and the two begin thinking of what to do with it.
Danny Boyle this time takes his hand at tackling a family film in the vein of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Millions, which can arguably be seen by some as a Christmas film (because we need plenty more of them to fill that particular genre) that has some amount of imagination as we primarily follow a family who are dealing with the loss of a loved one and a big bag of a distraction falls into their hands….with a lot of money in it.
The film relies heavily on the two young actors involved as the kids encounter the bag full of money and becomes a question of what would they do with all that money? We have one brother looking to give it to those in need and the other is looking to use it for investments and their own gain. The film is filled with imagination, from the opening scene of the two young brothers playing in the ‘new house’ as it goes through a construction montage, to young Damian interacting with the various Saints in order to receive guidance on what to do with the money. Alex Etel has a certain innocence and charm to his performance as Damian and under Boyle’s guidance, the film works best as his kind-hearted nature pushes him to do the right thing, while also getting him into bigger trouble than he could have imagined. The execution of the scenes showing how older brother Anthony is capitalising at school on his new found wealth was handled well though it came in short supply.
While the film works well as a family film, it feels rather limited in terms of storytelling to a point that it may come across as too preachy to some film viewers. While I get what they were going with in Lewis McGibbon’s performance as Anthony, his character annoyed the hell out of me and James Nesbitt’s accent was initially distracting due to the fact it is one of the few times I’ve heard him put on an accent in a film and with the setting it just felt out of place at the beginning for me. The film also falls at the final hurdle within the final act as everything comes to a head. I heard within the last few years that if Boyle and Boyce were more confident with their abilities back then that Millions would’ve been a musical. Maybe the film could be revisited/retold to a bigger audience in the future?
A nice film to watch among the family with a good child performance from Alex Etel. Filled with imagination and interesting views of what is truly right and wrong, it falls apart for me in the final act and just misses that extra something to make it a really good film. 6/10