Sunday, January 06, 2013

Life Of Pi

Year: 2012
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall

Plot: After a massive shipwreck, a young boy embarks on an adventure to return to civilisation with only a Bengal tiger for company.

Review: Based on the book by Yann Martel, Life Of Pi isn't just a physical journey, but a spiritual one as well. The story is told by an adult Pi to a writer, about how he was shipwrecked in the Pacific, and subsequently forced to survive on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger on board.

The spiritual part of this story relates to Pi's upbringing, as he takes plenty of interest in different religions instead of embracing just one. After the shipwreck, he will encounter something that is spiritual in nature, which gives him the hope to carry on.

Director Ang Lee does a good job in establishing the character of Pi, making him likable yet hard to understand at times. Lee's biggest challenge is setting up and presenting Pi's adventure on the open sea, facing multiple challenges of survival, like hunger, loss of hope and keeping the tiger from attacking him. To that end, Lee succeeds immensely.

But the film, as mentioned, isn't just about survival. Pi's relationship with his family, a girl he left behind, and with the tiger (called Richard Parker) are also explored. This isn't just during the flashbacks, but even as the older Pi relates his story to the writer, you can see how he truly feels about everything he says, which strikes a nerve with the audience. For that, we should thank Irrfan Khan for a solid performance.

But as good as he is, it is Suraj Sharma who deserves more credit as the younger Pi. His performance is not unlike Tom Hanks in Cast Away, as he has to act against nothing (the tiger is CGI, and very good CGI at that, because it looked so real). Suraj is excellent in portraying every emotion Pi endures throughout his ordeal. He's gonna be big someday.

However, as good as this film is, it does suffer from a few things. Lee, like he has done in many of his previous films, tends to overdo certain elements, up to the point that the film drags in specific areas. The opening credit sequence is a fine example of this. Then there's Pi's time in India before he had to move away, which can be shortened somewhat. In fact, the first 20 minutes or so almost felt like a religious heavy movie, which thankfully got back on track.

Nevertheless, Life Of Pi is a solid film overall. Even if you're not a religious person, there's something you can take away from it, which is to never give up. It's an inspiring piece, and everyone should see it. (3.5/5)

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