When Ang Lee made Life Of Pi last year, I’m not sure he expected just how much unanimous praise it would receive. Now that the buzz has died down, here is my honest take on the film.
Life Of Pi was a unique undertaking; it married the most complex, state-of-the-art CGI with an utterly human story, replacing action-packed chases and fight scenes with simple, beautiful imagery. The movie seems to be a fantastical exercise in storytelling, dipping its toes in philosophical waters though mostly relying on its two leads to carry the story along.
And what leads they are! Suraj Sharma expertly portrayed the complex character of Pi, his moral and survival-based decisions played out with intelligence, emotion and dabblings of humour. His unlikely companion, the Bengal tiger Richard parker, is equally watchable and is cleverly animated to display as much depth as a character as any of the humans. Their predicament is far from boring and thankfully avoids many of the Hollywood tropes when it comes to ‘unlikely pairings’, ‘odd couples’ and so on.
The film’s conclusion is interesting, if unsatisfactory, and its lofty philosophical goals are never within reach. Its success is purely as the jaw-dropping adventure that it is (or isn’t, depending on your interpretation of the ending). The symbolism is nothing new but the pure spectacle of Life Of Pi’s plot, enhanced by the stunning beauty of its cinematography, is always going to be what it is remembered for. That alone makes it an unashamedly good work of art.