Life Of Pi Review
Rating: 3.5/5 stars (Three-and-a-half stars)
What’s Good: The seamless direction; the visual effects; the amazing storm sequences; the storytelling.
What’s Bad: The contagious sea-sickness; the not-getting-it factor.
Watch or Not?: Watch it because it’s more than just a tale about a boy and a tiger; sit back and let the movie sink in.
“You can get used to anything,” says Pi in the book. Boy, you have to watch the movie to consider that just an understatement.
A writer approaches Pi (Suraj Sharma) on the behest of his uncle about an interesting story. Pi agrees to tell the writer his amazing story, adding that the story might just “make you believe in God”. Thus goes his story:
Born in a zoo, Piscine Molitor Patel lived his entire life surrounded by animals in his father’s zoo in Pondicherry. While his father pushes him to go for a pragmatic approach towards life, it is his mother (Tabu) who encourages his plurality in everything. So our young Pi, who is born a Hindu, seamlessly and innocently, praises Jesus for bearing our sins while reciting the Quran on the other side.
Then there’s the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker, at his father’s zoo, who Pi can’t take his eyes off. Our young hero even falls in love with a doe-eyed dancer.
But the zoo isn’t doing too well and Pi’s father decides to pack home and zoo, and ships all of them off to Canada. Caught in a storm, the ship sinks, leaving Pi on a little lifeboat.
And he’s not alone on it. Pi’s companions on the life-boat are Richard Parker, a wounded zebra, a hyena and a drugged orangutan.
Life Of Pi Review: Script Analysis
The movie is an adaptation of a book by the same name by Yann Martel. If you’ve read the book, you would know how difficult it is to get the whole aura around it considering that it’s a lot about the turmoil in Pi’s head than the storm that surrounds him. Writer David Magee does a commendable job in getting most of this out of the book and into a script that works well on screen. The roles of the zebra and the orangutan have been considerably shortened and it does take away a bit from what the book had offered.
The dialogues are very good (very inspired from the book).
Life Of Pi Review: Star Performances
Irrfan Khan does a very good job as the older Pi. Gautam Belur seems a bit conscious as the school-boy Pi. But Suraj Sharma is perfect as the Pi who’s stuck on a boat. His transformation from the confused and frustrated boy to a man is excellent. Tabu is gorgeous and performs well as Pi’s mother (though she gets very little screen time). Adil Hussain is good as Pi’s stern father.
An axe to grind here: the accents, except Tabu’s, are bad. While Irrfan can be forgiven, considering that he’s supposed to be living abroad, the younger Pi’s have accents that can at best be called confused. But since the director’s target audience is wider than the sub-continent, it’s probably for a reason.
Life Of Pi Review: Direction, Visual Effects & Music
Directors like Ang Lee don’t win you over with their over-the-top drama or action. Something as banal as the opening credits are done with such nuance and craft that the effort shows in every shot. Lee manages to bring out the spirituality and the depth of the story slowly as he peels off the layers, as Pi does with a strange flower in the movie, and it sinks in quite simply. He keeps this up throughout the movie, with the expertise of cinematographer Claudio Miranda. The storm scenes are truly awe-inspiring showing the wind and water fight it out in such explosive and beautiful shots. Then there is the jellyfish scene, and the flying fish… In short, the visual effects are incredible. What can get to you though is that Pi’s seasickness might just infect you with the camera lurching in tandem with the waves.
Spoiler Alert: Having said that, you do feel that the final and most important point of the book does not come out in the movie. While Pi wants to tell you that the animals might/might not have been an allegory, it seems uni-dimensional on screen.
Tim Squyres is sharp with the edit. Mychael Danna’s music has inspirations from south Indian lullabies, Buddhist chants and so much more. He’s done a fantastic job.
Life Of Pi Review: The Last Word
Life Of Pi is a compelling tale of adventure, magic and some stunning visual effects. This boy and tiger deserve a watch.
Life Of Pi Trailer
Life Of Pi released on 23rd November, 2012.
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