Ang Lee is one of the greatest directors of modern cinema. Sense And Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Lust Caution, Ang Lee’s prolific career has seen him develop into a director unafraid to explore different territories. His talent for delivering strong drama whilst having a great eye for visual effects has led him directly to Life of Pi, a near perfect cinematic treat based on a novel many considered unfilmable.
Life of Pi tells the story of a young Indian boy who manages to survive a disaster at sea, only to be left floating alone in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.
To say more of the story would be to take away the wonder and depth this multi-layered tale possesses. It’s an epic story that delves into what it is to have faith, the freedom to choose our own destiny, and the cruelty/beauty of both mother nature and the animal kingdom. Then again, maybe it doesn’t speak on any of that. This is the kind of grand tale that is able to be taken both literally and figuratively – with as little or as much depth as you desire.
First-time actor Suraj Sharma is one hell of a find. As the title character, Sharma brings an unbelievable amount of depth and emotion to the movie. He almost single-handedly carries the core of the film and more than convinces in a performance that mostly revolves around acting off CG animals. The supporting cast are also fantastic in their small but important roles.
This film achieves wonders on a technical level. The 3D is used to enhance the story perfectly and isn’t just tacked on like in so many releases these days. The visual-effects are top notch. The sequence in which the ship sinks is outstanding and the mostly CG animals are so convincing that you would swear they were real. Richard Parker (the Bengal tiger) is an incredible creation that just wouldn’t have been able to be achieved using a real-life animal. All these technical achievements aren’t placed in a way that call attention to themselves, they are seamlessly woven throughout the film as an integral part of the storytelling.
This larger-than-life tale is one of those rare gems that only comes along every so often. A deeply emotional journey, Life of Pi allows you to either construct your own interpretations or to just accept the fantasy of it all. Ang Lee and his team have made a beautiful film, carrying with it a sense of wonder not easily forgotten.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10