Life of Pi (2012 20th Century Fox)
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Directed by Ang Lee | Produced by Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark | Screenplay by David Magee | Story by Yann Martel (novel) | Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
“Faith is a house with many rooms,” says Piscine Molitor Patel, the given name of the lead character, early in the film. It is an ultimate test of faith that serves as the backdrop of Life of Pi, a visually breathtaking film about a young man fighting for survival against all odds…and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
You’d think I would’ve learned my lesson a year ago about walking into a movie theatre with preconceived notions about a film. Just as Hugo blew me away last year, here comes Life of Pi. Visually, it is a breathtaking film. Right from the opening scenes of everyday life in India, director Ang Lee and director of photography Claudio Miranda capture the vibrancy of Indian culture that immediately pulls viewers into the movie as an experience.
But this is not a film that exists on CGI and 3D alone. Life of Pi is a captivating story; even of Pi’s childhood, where he explores his own faith in God by studying Hinduism, Catholicism and Islam, is told with depth and warmth. Scenes around the dinner table with Pi’s family are told with equal importance as Pi’s battles with Richard Parker in the Pacific.
Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan both play Pi at different stages of life. As the young Pi, Sharma perfectly captures the desperation of being stranded and fighting for his life. As the adult Pi, Khan brings a certain wisdom to the role; a more deliberate, peaceful Pi exudes, as he tells his story to a writer. These performances will not win any awards, but they certainly were not just wallpaper behind special effects. They both brought Pi’s humanity, fears, triumphs and anguish to life in different ways.
Ultimately, Life of Pi is a beautifully crafted story of one young man’s faith, survival and coping with the loss of everything he’s ever known. It is not a simple, triumph-against-all-odds story. Life is not so neatly wrapped. If anything, Life of Pi teaches us that faith and survival often intersect. It also teaches us that what we use to keep the faith is not always the same for survival.
RATING: **** (out of 5)