Life of Pi

Life of Pi
Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Rafe Spall
Directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
Rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril

    Based on the much loved novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi tells the story of a young boy with an usual life story.  Literally raised in a zoo, Pi’s family in India decides to sell their animals to a zoo in Canada and on the boat journey there, Pi becomes the sole human survivor as he escapes on a life raft after a deadly storm.  Soon to find out that also on the lifeboat is a ferocious tiger, Pi must find a way to not only survive his new boat mate, but also survive months lost at sea. 

    From frame one, you can tell that this isn’t an ordinary film.  So much of this movie passes for the surreal.  The images are extraordinarily beautiful and in 3D it’s hard not to just sit back and meditate on the fact that you are in movie heaven.  So many movies made today might offer a 3D gimmick, but there is no gimmick here.  This is one of the most impressive 3D offerings to date and exactly the kind of movie worth paying the extra dollars for the glasses. 

    Perhaps what is most impressive about Life of Pi is the vision of Oscar winning director Ang Lee and Oscar nominated cinematographer Claudio Miranda.  Apparently I’m one of the few folks out there that hasn’t read the book, but I can’t imagine a description this vivid on paper.  This is the work of brilliant people that know exactly how to deliver the images in their heads onto the screen.  Of course it takes the special effects wizardry offered today to create this vision.  After all, the CG tiger couldn’t have looked this real a few years ago and there’s absolutely no way to make this movie with a real beast, so it helps to make a film after finally having the technology to do so. 

    As for the story, I found every minute to be exhilarating.  If you think a two hour movie about a boy and a tiger floating on the ocean can’t be exciting, you simply must see it to believe.  The way the story is told, you feel almost every emotion felt by the young man at sea.  Had they made Pi and the tiger friends, the picture wouldn’t be half as strong, but here when Pi is fearful for his life, you become fearful also. I bit my fingernails down to nubs and found myself squirming in my seat wondering how Pi was going to stay alive while constantly thinking “so better him than me.” 

    All of the production team and cast deserve a lot of credit here.  Producing this kind of art takes an army, and for this project the right army was assembled.  From the beautiful and intimate score by Mychael Danna, to the inspired production design by David Gropman, to the pitch perfect performances by Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Patel and others, this movie is one of those rare films that brings its audience a mesmerizing experience rather than just a couple of hours of entertainment.  A+