Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Movie Review: Life of Pi

Suraj Sharma
Life of P (2012)
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain and Tabu

"I suppose in the end the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye."

Life of Pi is a visual feast, and the power of oral tradition is alive and well in Ang Lee's masterful Oscar contender.

Based on the novel by Yann Martel, and adapted for the screen by David Magee, Lee has culled together all the difficult narrative threads from the original source and crafted a beautiful film from a novel that was once deemed unfilmable.

Life of Pi opens in Montreal where an older Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) meets with a young writer (Rafe Spall) interested in hearing his life story. In flashbacks, we are taken back in time to young Pi's youth in India. Born a Hindu, Pi's insatiable desire for knowledge and understanding leads him to take a deep interest in Catholicism and Islam. Armed with a complete faith in all three religions, Pi confronts his father (Adil Hussain), a man of science who rejects tradition and openly embraces a new India. "If you believe in everything, you end up not believing in nothing at all," his father cautions. When a teenage Pi (Suraj Sharma) is forced to leave India along with his family at his father's request, the youth struggles to come to terms with an event that he has no doubt will change his life forever. While packed on a Japanese cargo ship headed for Canada where Pi's father and mother (Tabu) hope to start a new life in Winnipeg, a torrential storm upends the ship, leaving Pi stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a tiger named Richard Parker. Lost at sea for an astonishing 227 days, Pi is forced to reevaluate his earlier notions of fate and the universe as his faith is put to the ultimate test.
Suraj Sharma
The meandering plot could easily have alienated viewers in the hands of a lesser director. Lucky for us, Lee has a knack for making even the quietest moments resonate with an emotional power. Life of Pi stays afloat thanks to lead actor Suraj Sharma, who carries the entire weight of the film on his young shoulders. It's a career-making performance that will undoubtedly put Sharma on the map.

Who knew that watching a teen boy grapple with religion, contemplate the meaning of life and bond with a vicious tiger could result in one of the finest film experiences of 2012?

Life of Pi is a fable, a film that revels in the art of storytelling. Through a combination of Magee's deft adaptation of a complex novel and Lee's lush visuals, Life of Pi is the kind of spectacle that proves even big-budget films with blockbuster-level CGI can be a thought-provoking work of art at it's very core.