Written by Phil Cerroni
By Matt Mungle
Title: Life of Pi
Ang Lee is the master of artistic beauty in storytelling. Like a brilliant painter with a big screen canvas, he creates imagery that enhances the characters and dialogue. We have seen it time and time again yet never was it as important to a film's success as Life of Pi. Each metaphor has to come across as subtle yet powerful. It is a balance that could make or break a movie like this.
Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) is an Indian lad with great insight and a desire for spiritual learning. When a disaster at sea causes him to end up on a life raft with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (I will not go into how, just trust me it makes sense) every element of his internal fortitude is put to the test. It becomes a cat and man game of survival. It is a story that will move your heart, stir your soul, and offer a feast for our eyes. Regardless if you see it in 2-D or 3-D.
Fans of the bestselling book that the film is based on (yes it was a fantastic book first) will need some convincing before they allow themselves to buy in to a Hollywood version of Pi and Richard Parker. The novel is so cerebral with a soul seeking agenda. It is hard to imagine that those passages could ever make it onto the big screen. But they do. Of course nothing can totally capture one hundred percent of the inner turmoil that Pi goes through. But the film version is able to grab the important elements and the nuggets that stand out in the book and offer them up for all.
If you have never read the book you will still find this movie just as moving and entertaining. Though many scenes will remind readers of passages they forgot, they will also move non readers just as much. That is how masterfully Ang Lee directs each moment. The shots of the open sea, the expanse of the sky, and the well choreographed dance between man and animal is perfection. I am sure they used CGI and all sort of computer enhancements, but they were as seamless as I have seen.
Life of Pi is rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril. There isn't an ounce of offensive content to be found. Really young viewers may find the circumstances of young Pi hard to wrap their mind around and the conversations between him and God will be lost. Also animal lovers will find one or two scenes tough to get through. That said, never has a film offered up so much to discuss and contemplate.
Your view of life, faith, and mankind will be jump started and recharged. I give it 4 out of 5 rations. Ang Lee has done what I thought was impossible; to make a film from this story work.