28 May, 2013

Life of Pi (2012)

The ANU film group solicited short reviews for the semester 1, 2013 programme. This is my review of Life of Pi for them.

Directed by Ang Lee (Eat Drink Man Woman; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain), this film is the adaptation of Yann Martel’s book of the same name.
The story starts with a writer seeking inspiration making contact with middle-aged Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel (Irrfahn Khan) on the urging of a mutual friend in India. Pi recounts his life story, beginning in Pondicherry at his family’s Zoo housed in the former French colonial botanic gardens. The story of Pi’s life in India takes a mostly standard coming-of-age + fish-out-of-water tale and embellishes it with exotic flair, a love interest and spiritual awareness that is vaguely reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s writing.
When Pi’s father, Santosh (Adil Hussein) decides to sell the zoo animals and move the family to Canada on a Japanese freighter, Pi is understandably heartbroken. When the ship passes over the Mariana Trench, a wild storm hits and the ship sinks taking Pi’s family with it.
The majority of the film now beings with the adolescent Pi (Suraj Sharma) existing for 227 days at sea in a life raft with a Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker (quite a lot happens).
While most people are polarised in their opinions of the story, the film is undeniably entertaining. The visual effects are mesmerising, sometimes crafty (like the subtle letterboxing of the flying fish scene to enhance immersion) and occasionally breaking-through to surrealism.
The cast gives a solid, believable performance, particularly the two main actors playing Pi and also his father.

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