Sunday, November 25, 2012

Life of Pi

Movie Name: Life of Pi
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Ayush Tandon, Gautam Belur, Adil Hussain, Tabu, Rafe Spall, Gerard Depardieu, James Saito, Jun Naito
Genre: Drama, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

Academy Award winning director Ang Lee is back, following his little seen last effort "Taking Woodstock", which featured Demetri Martin and Emile Hirsch. "Life of Pi" is an adaptation of Yann Martel's book of the same name. The story introduces us to Pi Patel, a middle aged man currently living in Montreal, who starts recounting his life story to an author, currently going through writer's block. Pi introduces the author (and us, the audience) to his early childhood in India, where his family had a Zoo and where he was introduced to the concept of religion. Pi's family opts to move to Canada, due to political instability in the country, but during the long boat voyage across the Pacific, a severe storm attacks the waters and the boat sinks with most of the crew inside (and the Zoo animals included). Pi miraculously escapes in a life boat, but to his shock, he's stuck on the boat with a Zebra, a Hyena, an Orangutan and a Bengali Tiger. Pi has to learn to strategize his survival and to keep a life balance between the never ending ocean and the new ecosystem on the boat.
Ang Lee is one of the most interesting directors currently working. His body of work has a diversity of themes, though there's a common thread that unites them all. All of his films are populated by a sense of cultural legacy, of heritage from ancestors, and how his heroes deal with those constraints and bloodlines (be it the young gay man of "The Wedding Banquet" or even Emma Thompson's heroine in the adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility"). "Life of Pi" uses the fantastic story of Pi Patel to build an ode to the resilience of the human spirit, but also a node to the undying faith of his main character. The film is visually stunning, thanks to the beautiful cinematography of Claudio Miranda, and the special effects are nothing short of breathtaking (with the 3D rendering of the animals being simply superb). The film does falter in some over simplification, but it's a feature that truly embraces the power of film making to create an experience that is visually rewarding and entertaining.