Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Life of Pi (2012)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
You may remember last week that my girlfriend and I had a small domestic about which film to watch, which she won (we watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). Well, my plans weren't entirely thwarted.

I first heard about Life of Pi in a teaser trailer around March last year where it simply featured an Indian boy on a raft with an adult Bengal tiger. Curiousity got the better of me, but out wasn't until later last year that I got to learn that's basically all that Life of Pi is about.

Confidence was restored when Empire awarded one of its prestigious 5 stars and Life of Pi became my last must-see film of 2012. Empire's big selling point was that Life of Pi is simply a visual spectacle and, true to Empire's word, it's not since Avatar that I have been truly amazed by how technology is utilised in film. Ang Lee certainly knows how to film the previously unfilmable in a vision that is just excellent.

If you haven't seen it yet and were thinking about waiting for the DVD release then don't. Get off of your sofa and get to the cinema and watch it in 3D. Of course, it would be wrong of me as a responsible reviewer to make such an outlandish statement without backing it up with some other twaddle about acting, music and religious experiences, so here goes.

In film, to me, India is only famous for two reasons (Bollywood aside); Slumdog Millionaire, and The Apu Trilogy. Both feature heavily around the life of a single Indian boy, and in that respect, Life of Pi is no different.

Although told from the adult Piscine "Pi" Patel's (Irrfan Khan) point of view, we see him grow from a small child at school and become a man on a raft in the presence of a big cat called Richard Parker. As the Pi who spends most of the time on the screen, and usually alone, Suraj Sharma holds the attention very well and rarely seems intimidated by the fact that there is only the camera and the open sea.

Life of Pi also gives a brief cameo to the new Russian citizen, and a man that holds a certain cult status in my home, Gerard Depardieu. He provides some comedy respite after the extended introduction which drags on a ridiculous amount of time. Although it was useful, I wished it would get on with the film.

The Jungle Book meets Castaway
As previously mentioned, Life of Pi has very strong religious connotations. Without trying to give too much away, we left the cinema agreeing that we enjoyed the tiger story. I jokingly remarked that we must be religious nuts, and on reflection I can even pinpoint the exact moment of conversion.

At the time, and midway through the film, there was a scene that really irritated me because it seemed as though all reason behind Life of Pi was lost and it was threatening to become fantastical garbage. At that moment my inner man of science reluctantly left the room to be replaced by the man of faith. All I can say is that throughout the film you should keep an open mind.

In summary, Life of Pi has come a long way since the teaser trailer a year ago. In essence it is still just one man and his tiger, but the story outside of that is powerful enough to provide more than enough entertainment.

Even with the astonishing visuals aside, Life of Pi is worth watching but, after Ang Lee's extraordinary vision, it becomes a must see cinematic experience.

2 comments:

  1. I still have no idea why anyone would say the book should have been impossible to film. Maybe because it would take a visionary director to get it right.

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  2. I do want to see this one, but I'll be waiting for the DVD to watch in the comfort of my living room. Initially the idea of the story sounded a bit ludicrous to me, but when I heard that it was a film of ideas that focus on spiritual and philosophical issues then I became more interested. This sounds like the kind of film I might like.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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