Movies: Life of Pi

That Life of Pi is a film well worth your time and money is without question.

It’s a visual feast as well as an entertaining, engaging story. The best bit? Apart from a brief cameo from Gerard Depardeu, there’s not a star in sight except for those that make up some of the brilliant visual effects employed by Director, Ang Lee, in the telling of this unlikely tale.

The-Life-Of-Pi-movie-posterPi is a young Indian boy whose real name is Piscine, after a French swimming pool favoured by his unusually large-chested uncle.

Now…… If that sentence seems a little bit strange then rest assured; it will make perfect sense when you see the movie and it’s typical of the way that this film evolves.

Life of Pi is about a shipwrecked boy and how he survives 277 days at sea with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and most tellingly, a tiger. The hyena makes short work of the zebra and the orangutan. A short time later it threatens Pi and it’s only then that we see the tiger (and of course, we no longer see the hyena). What follows is the development of a wonderful co-dependant relationship between man and beast in the face of imminent and ever-present danger.

In Pi’s own words, keeping the tiger alive gives him purpose and protecting himself from the tiger keeps him aware.

This is a survival story, a family story, a love story, a psychological story and a fable all wrapped into one. Pi has to survive three-quarters of a year with only a tiger for company. As he learns more about the tiger, he learns more about himself. He begins to understand the lessons his zookeeper father taught him not only about animals but also about life.

Pi is a spiritual searcher; by his own description he’s a hindu-muslim-catholic and this story has elements of the story of Job. It’s a trial but unlike Job, it’s not without rewards along the way. There is a second story in play here, too, but the first one’s far more interesting. You’ll just have to see the film and make the connections for yourself.

Life of Pi is entertaining and it’s visually striking with its use, but not over-use, of 3D effects. It’s never boring though the narrative never quite fulfils the promise made at the beginning – a story that will make you believe in God. The story is enough to make you think about the story, but neither I nor my four companions on movie night felt compelled towards a deeper spiritual journey. It might be an unrealistic expectation, but it’s the promise made by the film itself right from the beginning.

Life of Pi is a feast for the eyes and a heartwarming story to the end. Well worth seeing.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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