For its theme, pace and premise, it's not surprising that many thought Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' was unfilmable. However in Ang Lee's adaptation, we have a visually stunning commentary on spirituality that is insightful, without being preachy. Be warned that 'Life of Pi' is, by no standards, a 'light' watch. It poses numerous questions about personal beliefs, is slow to lay foundations and has a climax that could leave you either completely blown away or entirely confused (though there is no soggy middle).
What's it about?
Pi (Suraj Sharma) lives in Pondicherry where his parents (Adil Hussain, Tabu) run a zoo. From an early age, Pi is fascinated by the belief systems of various religions, even though his father continuously stresses upon the importance of practicality. The family decides to move to Canada after they fall on hard times and along with their zoo animals, they set off across the Pacific Ocean to Winnipeg. On the way, their ship is caught in a storm and Pi, a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and a Bengal tiger (called Richard Parker) end up being the only survivors, stranded in a single lifeboat. How Pi survives the shipwreck with his odd companions forms the rest of the narrative.
Visually, 'Life of Pi' is a masterpiece. It opens with shots that seemed like they were filmed in the Garden of Eden and moves on to stunning scenes from Pondicherry and the Pacific Ocean - where each frame looks like it was lovingly hand painted by supremely talented artists. 3D is also used well and you're unlikely to leave the theatre complaining of a migraine (you may also have the lilting soundtrack to thank for that).
Among the performances, Irrfan has some flashes of brilliance and Adil Hussain as Pi's father is memorable but they pale in comparison to debutante Suraj Sharma. It is on his shoulders that this movie forges forward and he is a likeable hero.
What to do?
'Life of Pi' is no leisurely watch, but it is the kind that will make for entertaining, intense debates over drinks or dinner after. Watch it.
in.com rating: 3.5/5
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