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Movie Review

Slumdog Millionaire

MPAA Rating: R for some violence, disturbing images and language.

Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
November 12, 2008 (limited, then wider)
DVD: March 31, 2009
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures

POVERTY—What does the Bible say about the poor? Answer

Poor in the Bible

True love

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

Murder in the Bible

Death

Concubine

Prostitution

Thieves in the Bible: Theft, Robbery, The two thieves

Money

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Hinduism

Sharing Christ with Hindus

An open letter to disciples of Hinduism

What is Monism and Pantheistic Monism? Who believes in Monism? Is it biblical? Answer

MYSTICISM—Can mysticism lead to God? Answer

REINCARNATION—Does the Bible allow for this possibility? Answer

INDIA—Did Jesus go to India as a child and learn from Hindu Gurus? Answer

Atheism

How to witness to atheists

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

Featuring: Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Raj Zutshi, Jeneva Talwar, Freida Pinto, Irfan Khan, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Sunil Aggarwal, Jira Banjara, Sheikh Wali, Mahesh Manjrekar, Sanchita Couhdary, Himanshu Tyagi, Sharib Hashmi, Virendra Chatterjee, Feroz Abbas Khan, Virender Kumar Gharu, Devesh Rawal, Rubiana Ali, Ankur Vikal, Tiger, Chirag Parmar, Nazneen Shaikh, Farzana Ansari, Anupam Shyam, Salim Chaus, Singh Shera Family, Harvinder Kaur, Narendra Singh, Tanay Hemant Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Satya Mudgal, Janet de Vigne, William Relton, David Gilliam, Mia Inderbitzin, Kinder Singh, Christine Matovich Singh, Thomas Lehmkuhl, Siddesh Patil, Najma Shaikh, Saeeda Shaikh, Alka Satpute, Tabassum Khan, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Sitaram Panchal, Nigel Caesar, Ajit Pandey, Kedar Thapar, Amit Leonard, Rajesh Kumar, Sagar Ghopalkar, Pradeep Solanki, Hamid Sheikh, Dheeraj Waghela, Arfi Lamba, Taira Colah, Varun Bagri, Ankur Tewari, Anjum Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Sarfaraz Khan, Syed Hussain, Umar Khan, Imran Hasnee, Homai Billimoria, Udayan Baijal, Sandeep Kaul, Rufee Ahmed, Rhea Lawyer, Deepali Dalvi, Anisha Nagar, Farrah Shaikh, Mamta Sharma, Neha M. Khatarawalla, Tanya Singh, Anand Tiwari, Faezeh Jalali, Meghana Jhalani, Rupali Mehra, Anju Singh, Saurabh Agarwal
Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan (co-director: India)
Producer: Celador Films, Film4, Christian Colson, François Ivernel, Ivana Mackinnon, Cameron McCracken, Tabrez Noorani, Paul Ritchie, Tessa Ross, Paul Smith
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

“What does it take to find a lost love?”

Jamal Malik is one question away from winning 20,000,000 Rupees on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” So why is he being interrogated by the police and being accused of cheating? This is the situation the viewer is presented with at the beginning of “Slumdog Millionaire,” the emotionally and visually stunning new film from British director Danny Boyle (“28 Days Later”). Set in Mumbai, India, the film tells the story in three different time periods of Jamal Malik and his journey from childhood to his current position on the game show.

“Slumdog Millionaire,” at its core, is a classic underdog story. It includes common “underdog” elements found in many films like “Rocky” or “Rudy”, and while this is not a sports movie, these themes shine through. The film reminded me of a story Charles Dickens would be proud of. The protagonist battles against elements such as poverty, lost love, and family troubles to, against all odds, conquer for love. And while this formula is tried and true, and somewhat outdated, the story still works due to the outstanding performances by the cast, as well as the fresh and original directing by Boyle. In the theater where I saw this film, the audience was on the edge of their seat from start to finish, and applauded at the credits.

From a Christian viewing standpoint, unfortunately, I can’t say this film would be appropriate for children, but for the discerning adult, I can strongly recommend it. While intense and somewhat graphic at times, “Slumdog Millionaire” is never anything other than realistic in its depictions. It earns its R-rating due to some rough language including 3 ‘F’ words, as well as some serious thematic elements involving children living without parents in an impoverished India. Sometimes it is tough to watch, but these moments are not in vain, as you will find out, everything that happens in the film does so for a reason. While the film isn’t a Christian one, as there are many nods to both Hinduism and Atheism, the story’s heart is still in the right place.

“Slumdog Millionaire” is garnering some awards attention and for good reason. Already with best picture nominations from the Golden Globes and the SAG’s, it’s easily the most entertaining and redemptive film I’ve seen this year. Danny Boyle doesn’t pull any punches and delivers a deeply moving picture that works on every level.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The photography is fantastic. The acting is outstanding. There is some cruelty, but it is short. There are references to Indian religion—references that made sense to the plot (since the movie is set in India). It is very uplifting and a movie of hope.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Julie, age 45 (USA)
Positive—This is a very thematically complex movie, and it is all very well done. It was difficult to see the poverty and hardship and corruption in India. It made me very grateful, as a US citizen, for the peace and comfort we enjoy in this country. As an eye-opening experience, as well as for the intense and suspenseful story, this film is well worth seeing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Halyna Barannik, age 62 (USA)
Positive—“Slumdog Millionaire” is a love song dedicated to love. But read on further. It is not only a Love-song praising the blessed relationship of Love between man and woman. It is a Love song for the strength, struggle, endurance and morality of (some few) men and also children, in the face of a harsh and, at many times, an unbearable existence.

Detouring for a second, I have to mention that I had read the novel “Q and A” on which this movie is “based.” I'm a tad-bit disappointed that the moviemakers chose to not follow the novel's storyline—but made a story, which while impressive and hopeful—is based only on the basic structure of the novel by Swarup. I had enjoyed the novel very much. It remains one of the BEST novels I've ever read. Sadly, the movie is only “based” on the initial premise of the novel, and there the similarities, between movie and novel, end. I suggest that if you like the movie, and it's hopeful message, you should read Swarup's novel, as about 70 percent of it (or more, by my estimate) was left out of the film.

That said, the movie IS impressive on it's own. I, myself, am an Indian. Sadly enough, this movie shows the many negative aspects of the terrible poverty which exists in India (not “sad” because the movie shows it, but sad because such situation exists in India, I mean). The movie has many scenes showing small, beautiful and cute kids rummaging thru the garbage mounds. You see them getting drenched wet in pouring rain, with no shelter above their heads. It shows the terrible things and situations Indian poverty ridden kids go thru in their lives. You see these kids longing for Love and affection. They long for someone to even notice them or show some care and affection towards them, and, you see, dubious and horrible people taking advantage of even this very basic need of every child or human being.

You can NOT but CRY seeing that these kids go thru an existence (and pray to God for those who are going thru such situations really in India), which would be a hard test even for the strongest of men. I had a lump in my throat, holding back tears, in many scenes in the movie. However, the movie, while showing this, also shows the power of God, Love and hope in the midst of this terrible suffering.

Jamal is a character, which goes thru many sufferings, right along with his elder brother, Salim. But, it is amazing to notice, the road and choices these two characters take, even though they both go thru the VERY SAME experiences. Director Danny Boyle, in my estimate, wants us to notice or ponder upon strength of character albeit it's connection to surroundings and experiences of life. While Jamal suffers not-once at the hands of his elder brother, Salim—when it comes to facing his harsh life and not allowing it's hard experiences to change himself or his belief in hope and Love (another name for God)—Jamal's character is certainly the STRONGER of the two brothers, even if not on the physical plane—although upon first viewing, the movie might feel as if showing otherwise.

The actress who portrays Latika, the “victim” character throughout the movie, is played by an actress who is very beautiful—Indian actress and model, Frieda Pinto. But her character is also one which keeps believing in Love and selflessness, and the conclusion of her and Jamal's character in the end of the movie—is one that makes the heart of anyone who has a touching, optimist and caring heart—leap with JOY.

All in all, this is an uplifting movie, and it's message of hope and Love in the midst of harsh lives, is something to inspire Christians and anyone who has a loving, caring, sensitive and optimist heart in themselves. Even if the movie has many uneasy scenes, it's message is a lovely one. In an age where many movies are hope-devoid (and for some strange reason that is considered “artistic”—which I'm sorry but it angers me…), such movies are very welcome and inspiring thing. Be Blessed, and thank you for reading my review.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sasson Solomon, age 33 (USA)
Positive—This is a picaresque, scintillating and often horrifying look at a changing India. It follows the childhood, teenage and young adult life of Jamal, his older brother Salim and their friend Latika, who they invite out of a monsoon and into their lives as orphans, street kids and delinquents on the streets of horrible slums in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay and scene of a recent terrorist attack at a hotel that appears several times in the film.) We meet Jamal as an adult when he is appearing on the Indian version of the quiz show “Who wants to be a Millionaire” intercut with scenes of him being tortured by police, a frequent event in films about the near and far east. The police don't believe that a “slumdog” could successfully answer the questions without cheating, and he is “renditioned” from the show for “rough interrogation.”

You wonder what they would do to a real terrorist. It turns out that Jamal has by good fortune known the answers to the trivia questions from the experiences in his youth. Orphaned by an attack on Muslims, the kids are found scrounging on the dumps by the head of “Hope Orphanage” who rouses our suspicions and turns out to be an evil person reminiscent of Fagin in Dickens novel Oliver Twist. The boys have a harrowing escape but Salim has a grudge against Katika and allows her to be captured.

The story is filled with improbable coincidences (the boys are thrown from a train while trying to steal food from passengers, and land within sight of the Taj Mahal, where they are soon stealing shoes, giving phony guided tours and looting the cars of tourists. Eventually Jamal is obsessed with finding Katika, who is being groomed for prostitution. Salim kills to protect them and eventually becomes a criminal and betrays Jamal by taking her for himself.

As a young man, Jamal serves the higher class young people working at call centers, subs for one during a bathroom break, and manages to get on the quiz show in the hope that Katika, now in an abusive relationship with a violent gangster, will be watching. A subplot arises in Jamal's relationship with the show's host, and as the chances that Jamal will miss a question and lose everything increase. The climax of the film is highly contrived, as is the rousing Bollywood style song and dance number during the credits. The fatalistic view that “it is written” comes to be a key element in the plot. It is not clear how the pleasant young adult Jamal has developed from the life of thievery and abuse that he lived in the streets.

Despite the quality of joy and optimism that permeates the film, the brutality and horror of the slums and contrast with the opulence of the world surrounding the quiz show remain unsettling. At one point Jamal and Salim sit in a skyscraper being built, apparently by gangsters, on the sites where the slums of their youth once stood. But is the horrible poverty being replaced, or just displaced?

The religions of the film are Hinduism and Islam (although Jamal and Salim are apparently Muslims, it does not appear to have any influence in their lives) and while we occasionally get a sense of divine intervention (a Hindu god appears when the boys are fleeing a sectarian attack, which turns out to contain the answer to a question on the show; later a sacrificial Salim appears to invoke divine protection for Jamal) Christianity is not really a presence in the film, although love certainly is. The film is certainly engaging, with its epic and fairy tale qualities, as well as a shocking reminder the the poverty and brutality that so many of the world's people live with.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Stanley Hirtle, age 63 (USA)
Positive—I think this is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time coming from Hollywood. Having personally lived in Mumbai, and seen countless young slum children mistreated and exploited by family and slumlords alike, I'm glad this is being brought to the attention of the Western world! The middle-class Indian likes to live in a bubble. He has become immune to the suffering and poverty around him and anesthetized by the entertaining escapism offered by Bollywood. This movie for the first time offers a realistic picture of what India is really like. It is a great eye-opener for Westerners too, as to how much they are blessed and what great suffering there is in other parts of the world. Yes, there is a lot of violence, but as a Mumbaikar I can testify that that is true. An underprivileged child in India is going to be more ill-treated than a prisoner in U.S. jails. The whole idea of “democratic rights” is a fiction in Indian society. I am aware some Indians will take exception with what I am saying, but that is because a movie like this is highly embarrassing. I was embarrassed myself in the movie theater, hoping people would not realize I was an Indian. But it is also the truth.

As a Christian, I think the movie has some great truths. Jamal does not let the evil and corruption around him touch his soul. He always speaks the truth (well not when he is trying to make money at the Taj Mahal) even at great cost to his life. By his actions, he shows love is not about lust and sex, but about sacrifice and commitment. The movie provides a good insight into child labor, the Mumbai underworld, Hindu-Muslim strife and the constant balancing game the modern Indian plays between poverty and rising success. Of course, the movie does not try to make a moral statement and is just describing a rags to riches story. Thus any references to religion are all provided within this context.

This movie is one more opportunity for Christians to see what India is really like and pray for their brothers and sisters in a dying world. Indians need Jesus. We are blessed with so much in every way including the gospel. And the same gospel that brings deliverance on the streets of Boston or New York brings freedom and deliverance to people all over the world.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Clinton, age 33 (USA)
Positive—While I found some elements of this movie to be offensive (excessive violence, cuss words), on the whole, I felt it was a great movie. I really liked this story about an uneducated teenager defying the odds to win big money on a big name game show. I liked the sequence of the film and how Jamal's experiences tied in to the answers that he gave.

Although this is not a serious comment about the film, I could not help but notice that the actor portraying the TV show host looked a lot like infomercial host Billy Mays.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Shannon, age 27 (USA)
Positive—This was a good film, and I would recommend seeing it. The “R” rating is mainly due to some intense scenes depicting the horrible living conditions in the slums of India, including violence. The main character of Jamal is noteworthy in that he tries to live a decent life and rescue the woman he loves from the terrible situation she is caught up in.

HOWEVER—this movie is, in some ways, an Islamic propaganda movie. The main characters are muslim. An early scene depicts a slaughter of muslims by what I assumed to be Hindu or Buddhist followers. Jamal's brother, who is a very tough individual who has done some atrocious things in his life (sometimes by necessity), eventually becomes a follower of Islam and tries to redeem his life. In the end, Jamal's brother gives his life for the happiness of others, which is a tremendous sacrifice. His dying words are the Islamic mantra “God is Great.” While this is a noteworthy development in the film, as Christians we believe that the ONLY way to salvation is through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that all other paths, no matter how well meaning they may be, are false paths. This is a subject that we, as Christians, are obligated to discuss with those who have not accepted Jesus as their savior, and in this politically correct world this is not always an easy thing to do.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John P., age 44 (USA)
Positive—I grew up in the third world and saw this movie. It was entertaining and above all it was truthful. The story is a beautiful story of life and a character that absolutely refused to allow the decay and corruption around him, in his own family, despite his circumstances to turn him into a monster. And a story of enduring love.

As for the brutality that so many people found so offensive—The world is an R-rated place. The bible tells us this. Some would rather not believe it, but how can we hope to understand people if when confronted with the truth of their lives, we just call it offensive. There are a lot of gratuitous R rated movies, but this was not one of them. I applaud the makers for getting an R rating on this—they could have got a PG-13 easily and exposed kids to a movie that is definitely not for kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Reno, age 28 (USA)
Positive—I waited until this movie came out to DVD. At first I was skeptical. I don't like the gambling games such as “who wants to be millionaire.” I did not like the violence but this movie tried to show the real life in the slums of India and dire poverty in it. If filmmakers would show this slum life as a documentary only very few would be willing to watch it but they masterfully combined problems of life with love story.

Love of Jamal toward Lakita inspired me to love others unconditionally despite their situations. Now I am speaking as a man, more often when a woman fails morally we completely discount her and make her unworthy of our utmost respect and care. Jamal's unconditional love was shining throughout the movie and rekindled the love of Lakita. I enjoyed watching this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Pakman, age 36 (USA)
Positive—I watched this movie once in theatre, and enjoyed it so much that I had to buy it the day it came out, and then I took it to my parents house and watched it with my family. This sites description is correct, it is a true underdog story—if it doesn't touch you in some way, you might want to check yourself for a pulse.

As a Christian, I know that God has a plan and a story for my life. This story was depicting the life of Jamal, though not a Christian, and showing that the event's that occurred in his life were all set up in order to reunite him with a lost love. Jamal grew up homeless, causing trouble with his older brother, and they were both given the same opportunities in life. But Jamal, motivated by love, decides not to follow his brothers path to destruction, which is beautifully portrayed in this movie.

For the people out there who found this movie offensive, that is fine… But, it embarasses me when I see brothers and sisters in Christ say that the movie was too harsh, or that this was not a true love story. We cannot hold Hollywood to our legalistic standards, and truthfully, I have to say: Life is tough sometimes! This movie depicted real problems and real struggles. We cannot escape reality. Look in the Bible please and show me where you can find that life is supposed to be all peachy, and we are never to have any trials or temptations.

Anyway, its a great movie, so please when you watch it try to remember that we are ALL created in the image of God, not just christians. There is so much we can learn through this movie about our spirituality and about God.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kyle, age 23 (USA)
Positive—“Slumdog Millionaire” has several powerful themes which make it a worthwhile film to view. The character Jamai is a young man who has suffered throughout his life, and though accused of the crime of cheating on a game show his innocence is revealed through the telling of the story. The love he has always had for his childhood friend Latika has never waned and he continually pursues her. Though she is a captive to an evil criminal and the dangerous Salim, Jamai lets her know he will wait for her and lives to be with her again. This theme had a definite Christ-like quality in the similar way God pursues us and has suffered for us, just to be in relationship with us.

Another obvious theme was destiny: Jamai was meant to win the prize money and his beloved Latika. In the ending words shown on the screen “it is written” and in the two young people's conversation once they were together and safe, we see evidence that in every heart is a desire for meaning and to have a connection with God. Several times in the film references to the spiritual emerged, such as “God is good,” or “it is our destiny to be together.” The last theme involves the wrong desire in some people to be “number one,” at the expense of human life and is the ultimate pride. This was the case with the Slumlords who took advantage of the orphaned children and enslaved them, as well as Salim when he threatened or killed anyone in the way of his becoming “the Boss.”

This film is well worth viewing and probably will speak to you on many different levels.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Elizabeth Bartee, age 46 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I was completely shocked by this movie, and more when I see positive comments on many Web sites. This movie is very hard to watch—probably depending where you came from in life—but when you see children getting abused, it's just not my thing to watch. From the beginning, Jamal is mistreated; there is violence by his friend killing an adult in cold blood, face to face with a pillow… afterward, ending up kill another person and then himself. Jamal gets beaten by officers during interrogation. There is so much violence. I did not get anything out of this movie that stands out afterward…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—David April, age 34 (Canada)
Negative—This movie is made by westerners for a western audience… The people watching this movie leave the theater thinking India is an ugly land, full of slums and violent, horrible people. I find the movie very offensive, and I find it even more offensive when people say they got to see real India (I have news for you folks—that movie is NOT real India). The movie is full of exaggerations. I do not understand why the talk show host is very condescending and why the audience laughs at every condescending remark (in reality, the gentleman who hosts the show is very gracious and kind!!!). I find the violence and ugliness in the movie extremely revolting. Like I said, the west seems to like only movies that show India in extreme poverty. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Bob, age 30 (India)
Positive—The movie was excellent, gripping and accurately shows what the slums of India are like. The movie does have adult themes in it however, including some murder scenes. But if you can stomach that, there is a much bigger message they are conveying. I lived there for a year and half with my family, and the poverty is heartbreaking. Children begging, people telling you they are starving and living in disgusting conditions. I am outraged that people want to deny that this is real. I am even more outraged that they have the nerve to be “offended.” This is a country where 70% of the population don't have access to a toilet, and they want to pretend this isn't happening. There are so many precious people in India. It is a filthy country in desperate need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A lot of the wealthy and middle class Indians have hardened there hearts to the abject poverty of their own people.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Victoria, age 34 (USA)
Negative—I have decided people go to movies for different reasons. We do not go to many movies anymore, because most of them are not worth viewing. But I talked my husband into going to this one and have apologized several times since! There was nothing uplifting in this movie. It is a stretch to call it a love story. We all know there are poor people who live like the people in this movie in the world, but I find it apalling and degrading that someone would want to put it into a movie, and we call it entertainment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joy, age 63 (USA)
Negative—This is one of the most offensive films I have ever watched for one reason, so many christians recommended it. It showed India in it's most desperate state. It showed evil very well. It had tragedy, romance and all the things a great film needs, but it was not Christian. It was a very sad, very tragic rags to riches story, but it was so offensive I can't imagine the Lord liking or recommending it. I have a heart for missions, I long to see native peoples saved, I love movies that point to a better way, this did none of that. Maybe some good has already come of it, I hope it opened some eyes, but it was so offensive. I cannot recommend this movie in any way.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tim Stromer, age 42 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This is one of the most powerful, moving films I've seen in years. Each of the actors gives an excellent performance and make you feel for their characters. The score is perfectly fitting in every scene, the script is flawless, and I left feeling uplifted and prompted to pray for the children in India who are living in Jamal's situation. It's very light for an R rating, there isn't much language, but there are several pretty violent scenes. The tone of the story is intense and would definitely be disturbing to younger audiences. Everyone over 16 should see this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Linda, age 17 (USA)
Positive—“Slumdog Millionaire” is, in my opinion, a very very good moive. I do not quite understand why some people call it offensive. It shows things that happen in real life. It is a touching and uplifting story. I came out of the theater very surprised that I liked it. To say that it is bad because of it's violence etc. is showing that you do not understand the point of the movie. It is about a boy who grows up in a very difficult environment and how his life gave him these answers to the show. I personally think it is a wonderful movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—anonymous, age 14 (USA)