I was torn about writing this.
Half of me believes this is one of those films you should see without knowing anything about it – trailer, buzz etc. Then the total experience is accentuated by the sweetness of surprise and discovery. That happened to me with The Matrix and Looper. Zero expectations, mind blown.
Then the other half wants to talk about it so if you are on the fence you’ll go see it.
So I think the best approach is to put in no plot spoilers but just my reaction.
And my reaction should be tempered with the knowledge that the book, by Yann Martel, was one of my favourites for its magic, lyricism, whimsy, and the core message of daring to believe.
And while it’s been a while since I read the book, my expectations of what any recreation of The Life of Pi should be, set the bar pretty high.
I felt bad for Ang Lee when I first heard he was tackling it.
How would he handle this without disappointing the hordes of fans like me, who were connected to the enchantment of Pi’s mind? How would he handle the allusions, metaphors, thoughts that was such a large part of the book?
So – no small feat that a hard-core Pi-an like me says GOOD JOB.
Ang Lee made a sumptuous, delicious film.
Amid the ocean of wonder that the visual effects bring, sails a really solid cast. He chose unknowns so there would be no baggage, just characters and acting. And there is fine fine acting. Especially newbie and first-timer Suraj Sharma as Pi.
He has a face that speaks without words, a beauty and honesty that just pours out of his eyes. Remarkable, when you think that for a large part, he is acting on his own to green screen. He has the ability to move you, without words, without dialogue. That is really special.
The camera loves him, and he lights up the screen. It’s another wonder of the film when you discover it’s actually his first acting role. The boy is so gifted.
While the main premise of the movie is far more about the adventure of survival, rather than the book’s focus on belief, hope and sometimes existential questioning, Ang Lee instead brings the wonder by creating some gorgeous cinema to look at. Not quite Avatar in fantasy other-worldness; but I believe even more stunning in its realistic possibility – capturing wonder as it might really exist, in the best possible and most unique version of our planet. It probably does – if we were to take the time to look for it.
Moving, stunning, entertaining, full of wonder.
Especially in IMAX.