Life Of Pi
recommended by 2 users
- 29 Nov 2012
- Running Time:
- 127 mins
- Adventure, Drama
- 20th Century Fox
- Ang Lee
- Adil Hussain, Gerard Depardieu, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Suraj Sharma, Tabu
- Adapted from Yann Martel's Booker Prize-winning novel, "Life of Pi" is set in Pondicherry, India and centres on Piscine Molitor Patel (Suraj Sharma), also known as Pi. Pi is a well-to-do zookeeper's son who spends his life acquiring knowledge, not only the great religious texts but of all kinds of literature to satisfy his curiosity about the world. However, political changes in India cause the Patel family to choose to move to Canada where Pi ultimately finds himself adrift in a lifeboat with a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The rest of the story chronicles Pi's 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival.
Be yourself and tell the story in your tone and personality
Displaying 1-3 of 3 reviews
02 Jan 2013
Bold, ambitious and poignant; ‘Life of Pi’ is an intriguing yarn that delves into the subject of faith and providence.
An incredible achievement in the art of storytelling and modern filmmaking, this visual telling of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy stranded on the high seas is probably one of Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s best films yet.
The book, as Martel describes in the first few pages is emblematic of his hunger at a time when he needed direction and purpose for his life. Like the protagonist that defied all odds to survive his oceanic ordeal, director Ang Lee too triumphed over adversity – an unknown lead actor and cast, a book once deemed “unfilmable”, a castaway tale of a boy on a lifeboat – to conjure up the most magical film of the year.
Also read: Interview with Ang Lee
While the author took you to places you never imagined and into the mind of Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) with his prose, Lee took Martel’s fable on step further. Akin to an artist with a box of new paints, Lee paints the screen with his metaphorical paintbrush –smothering the screen with swathes and swirls of gorgeous saturated cinematography courtesy of cinematographer Claudio Miranda (‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’), the captivating use of 3D as well as CGI. It’s almost as if you’re pulled into a pop-up picture book once the opening credits roll in.
As stunning as his ground-breaking visuals are, it is inadequate to carry the film through if it not moored to Martel’s source material (with slight tweaks by screenwriter David Magee, [‘Finding Neverland’]). The heart of the story is this: the 227 days that Pi spends on the lifeboat, adrift with a menagerie of animals until just a Bengal tiger curiously named Richard Parker remains with him. The burgeoning relationship between the man and beast is very pivotal to the story. It is here that film turns into a tale of survival and self-discovery. And it is here where the audience is slowly drawn into Pi’s world where the fates of Pi and Richard Parker really matter to us—we feel hopeful for him and fear for him.
All these of course would come to naught without the talents of one Suraj Sharma, a greenhorn with the acting chops of a seasoned actor. Plucked out of Delhi after a chance audition, Sharma manages to channel a range of emotions—fear, hopelessness, joy and adulation—but without anything physical to react to (he mostly acted to a blue-screen). Like Pi, Sharma was literally alone. The young actor delivers an impressive performance. And like Pi, we follow Sharma as he grows gaunt, as his skin turns darker and his odds at survival quickly dry up.
Also read: Interview with Suraj Sharma
It seems that Ang Lee is an old hand at beating the odds. After beating the house several times with British period drama (‘Sense and Sensibility’), Chinese martial arts (‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’), cowboy romance (‘Brokeback Mountain’) and comic heroes (‘Hulk’), what is a book adaptation?
His other trump card –3D is executed with astounding verve. Not just a money-grabbing one-trick pony as employed in other lesser films, Lee’s use of the medium–his first time--is astounding. With it, he embraces us in the movie’s emotional core and engrosses us in Pi’s physical and emotional journey. The sinking of the ship, Tsimtsum, rendered in 3D, is impressive and yet harrowing at the same time. Every swell and wave crash is calculated and considered, making you think that Lee is conducting Mother Nature from his director’s chair.
Let’s also not forget the jaw-dropping visual sorcery that’s plentiful in the film –from Richard Parker whose likeness to a real Bengal tiger is so vivid that he scares the bejesus out of audiences with every roar and the scenes of marine life to the surreal floating island inhabited by meerkats. ‘Life of Pi’ is indeed a marvel of modern film-making.
But what makes such a fantastical story like ‘Life of Pi’ so enthralling is that it is also grounded in reality – screenwriter David Magee’s framing of an adult Pi (Irrfan Khan, ‘A Mighty Heart’) sharing his tale to writer (Rafe Spall, ‘Prometheus’) juxtaposed against the his younger self’s odyssey is a masterstroke in itself as it works to carry the story forward and conveying another perspective to the tale. The story ends when the surrealist drama gives way to psychological drama at the end –each craving for your belief. Which one do you choose? The harsh and brutal truth or take a leap of faith and believe in the myth. That’s what ‘Life of Pi’ truly is about –faith.
With ‘Life of Pi’, Ang Lee brought film-making to another level not seen since Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’. What makes ‘Life of Pi’ work is that Lee is able to deal with the metaphysical themes of spirituality and self under the veneer of fantasy.
Whether it’ll make you believe in a higher power or not, it is anyone’s guess; but we’re sure that, Ang Lee has restored our faith in the magic of cinema. Yes. ‘Life of Pi’ is that powerful.
0 out of 0 people found this review helpful
Was it helpful to you?
Cinema Online reviews Life Of Pi
03 Dec 2012Based upon Yann Martel's novel of the same name, "Life Of Pi" narrates the physical and emotional journey of Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry when he is shipwrecked on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker for 227 days.
Some details have been changed in the film, such as to whom Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel recounts to his story to, in this case, instead of Japanese officers (also present in the film); it is to a writer, hinted to be Yann Martel (Rafe Spall). Nevertheless, it remains a fantastical story, and Ang Lee ramps it up to the point of impossible with scenes like the whale jumping over the lifeboat, a "Fantasia" visual dive into the sea, and keeps it alive with subtle humour. It is a story of faith that reaches as far as the viewers, asking us if we believe in Pi's tale of survival, which is exactly why Yann Martel's novel won the 2003 Boeke Prize and the 2004 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Best Adult Fiction. One does not just watch "Life Of Pi", one lives it, and it will certainly bring tears to your eyes.
The film's miraculous storytelling is accentuated by its stylistic visuals, as it is in itself a testament of Ang Lee's visual mastery, much like what "Hugo" was to Martin Scorsese. From the opening credits that resemble the National Geographic program, Ang Lee, his cinematographer Claudio Miranda and music director Mychael Danna pull out all the stops to turn "Life Of Pi" into an industry landmark. For one, Academy Award Bill Westenhofer and his team at Rhythm and Hues studios has made a CGI tiger that is virtually indistinguishable from a real one. Then there are the sweeping landscapes such as the seeminly infinite sky when reflected by the water and the mysterious island that Pi and Richard Parker encounters. At times, the 3D effects may seem like a marketing gimmick, but you are more than willing to be pulled in by the luminous and vibrant colour palette and creative presentation. It is a spiritual allegory about finding one's place in the world and maintaining faith in the face of adversity that is poetic, lyrically shot and seductively scored.
Equally amazing are the four actors that Ang Lee found to play Pi. From Tandon's precociousness to Khan's weary 50-year-old with a twinkle in his eye, it feels like Gautam Belur, Ayush Tandon, Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan are actually the same person. Tandon is endearing as young Pi, while Khan demonstrates to us why he deserves a permanent place in Hollywood. But the breakthrough star of the film is inarguably Sharma. The 19-year-old actor bears an uncanny resemblance to Dev Patel in "Slumdog Millionaire" with his wide-eyed look and determined spirit, however, there is more praise to heap upon Sharma considering that he is a rookie riding solo in the film whereas Patel has the likes of Freida Pinto and Anil Kapoor supporting him, along with a prior acting experience in the British teen drama series "Skins".
Other actors such as Rafe Spall, Tabu and Adil Hussain may play slightly lesser roles in the film, but are not easily dismissed, especially Hussain, who plays Pi's father. A strict teacher, Hussain proves not to be one of those stereotypical Indians when he makes his entry looking like a hippie and tells his son at an early age not to blindly follow religion. It should be noted that contrary to most filmmakers, Ang Lee does not whitewash his cast, and even went so far as to cut Tobey Maguire from the film for consistency, so that he has an entirely international cast.
Overall, if there were any doubts as to Ang Lee's position in Hollywood's A-list, "Life Of Pi" will dispel them with its fantastic visuals, strong narrative and excellent acting. For viewers who have yet to read Yann Martel's fantasy adventure novel, "Life Of Pi" serves as a great motivator for them to pick it up, while it is up to fans of the novel to decide which version they prefer, like Spall's writer. Definitely watch it in IMAX 3D.
0 out of 0 people found this review helpful
Was it helpful to you?