Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Movie Review: Life of Pi

Going to the movies is a completely different escape for me than it was 4 years ago. Although a trip to the theater has been my favorite pasttime since I can remember, it is definitely different after you have a child. Now, the act of walking into the theater, buying an enormous diet coke, and sitting down in peace and quiet is almost as important to me as the movie itself. So take that into consideration when reading this movie review.

Most of us knew the premise of Life of Pi without having seen it due to a very descriptive trailer and promos. But arguably my favorite part of the movie came before Pi (Piscine) Patel and his family embarked on a journey to Canada from India on a Japanese shipping boat with all of the family's animals from the zoo. The story is told by a now adult Pi to a writer who had heard glimpses of this fabulous tale of survival. He starts by discussing the origin of his name, the family zoo, and his adolescence. This is brief, but essential as it sets up the internal struggle that Pi had between his own naive morals and beliefs and that set forth by his father. Pi had a fairytale view of life that was immediately shattered when his father let the Bengal from the zoo (Richard Parker) tear a goat to shreds in front of him to teach him a lesson. But it wasn't until after the tragic sinking of the Japanese shipping boat that Pi's beliefs would be tested.

Pi finds himself in a lifeboat at sea with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and the previously mentioned Richard Parker. I must say, this is where the movie lost me a little bit. Not just because not much happens in the following hour, but because I had a hard time relating to the teenage Pi played by Suraj Sharma. I have an easier time embracing solitary plot lines (see Into the Wild, 127 Hours) when I feel connected to the character. Because I wasn't connected to Pi, who spent way too much time screaming in vain, I found myself waiting for stuff to happen. Luckily, Ang Lee did a remarkable job making this part of the movie as visually stunning as possible, so it wasn't exactly boring.

A brief stop at a floating island overrun by meerkats could have probably been a few minutes longer, but instead it was a welcome pit stop right before Pi & Richard Parker washed ashore in Mexico. Pi becomes distraught when the tiger disappears into the Mexican jungle without so much as a glance back to acknowledge their joint feat. However, at no point did I ever really feel that the two were connected so this didn't register for me as much as it should have.

Later, as he recounts his journey to Japanese insurance agents he is met with disbelief in his fabulous tale of survival at sea for 227 days. This is when he is encouraged to tell the real story, which he offers as a parallel tale on a boat with a cook, a sailor, and his mother. At the end we are left to decide, much like the agents, which story we deem to be more likely. When he asks the writer which one he believes, the writer responds saying the one with the tiger because "its a better story" to which Pi replies, "and so it goes with God."

3 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. May have been a bit sloppy in terms of writing, but the visuals are breathtaking and something that will definitely have your eyes advert on the screen the whole time. Good review Bob.