Written by: David Magee
Produced by: Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark
Runtime: 127 minutes
Pi Patel has lived a dynamic life. He has been constantly bullied in school because of his real name. He and his family lived in a zoo for they are the caretakers. He tried to befriend their tiger Richard Parker, but his father did not allow him. He has also fallen in love with a beautiful lady from a dancing class. Lastly, his family is about to embark on a trip by water to Canada. One unfortunate night, a storm caused the ship to sink, leaving Pi all by himself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. However, things do not go as expected when he was forced to share the lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan, and last but not least, Richard Parker. As days pass, he must learn how to survive as he witnesses the grandiose beauty of nature.
The film is as glorious as cinema can be. The whole soulfulness of the film is present in all aspects of the film, and it is due to the cleverness that Ang Lee puts in it. There is no need for him to prove himself anymore. He has already given us a string of films that possess visual splendour and emotional richness (Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Brokeback Mountain, to name a few). But with this one, he simply does more, making him much more deserving of the acclaim that he earns as a filmmaker. The understanding of the material, its spirituality and the majesty of the beauty present, is very much present in how the scenes were executed with such grace and elegance. It is quite hard to do, because one can easily fall into style over substance. Luckily, the style employed in the film is quite elemental in making the substance fully work.
The feels very alive, and that makes the film work so much. David Magee’s screenplay is a really full of substance; the spiritual side of the story is inevitable, but the screenplay does its very best to also provide the full characterization of the lead character of Pi Patel for us to be able to establish a strong connection with him. The spirituality hits you in moments that are not actually unexpected, but there has been enough mounting of the idea for the realization to be absolute, leaving one a rewarding experience for the soul.
The cinematography conveys the essence of the material quite successfully. The images are gorgeous, almost ethereal. The strong images supply the film its strongest asset. The film is a visual experience, and it deservedly earns that phrase because it is indeed quite an experience. There is no single moment that feels as if the aesthetics is forgotten; every shot guarantees that there is magnificence in everything that we see in this film. Of course, it is more obvious in the scenes where there are visual effects present (which are indescribably terrific, I must say), but even those small moments before the sinking of the ship, the images offer a complete interpretation of beauty in varying degrees.
Also, the skilful weaving of scenes is also worth noticing, providing an ample amount of space for each scene to move so that the organic feeling can be sustained throughout the entire course of the film. The music is immensely rich, creating a very reflective and almost solemn atmosphere for the film. There is also an evident display of expertise in its sound work, flawlessly forming the entire sensory experience.
But as the film is a technical marvel, it is also a story of very human proportions, thanks to its strong lead actor Suraj Sharma as the title character. He exemplifies a deep awareness of the internal struggle of the character that he plays, making the film a really worthwhile emotional journey. His facial expressions are just as functional as his voice in constructing one man’s passage from curiosity to an actual exploration of himself and the world where he is in. Anchoring the film’s narrative thread is Irrfan Khan in a nuanced performance as the aged Pi.
The film’s question to the audience of whether you should believe in God is probably the most controversial aspect of the film and the one that keeps some people away from this film. Honestly, from a standpoint of someone who believes, the film is a compelling way of raising that issue, and possibly, it might persuade some to go back to believing. But to those who would rather not believe in God, I suppose the film will still work for them because like what I have said, the film is a human experience the same way that it is a spiritual one. One can easily appreciate the beauty of the film, but for someone who believes, it is more profound because it transcends what meets the eye.
For this, the film gets:
Agree or disagree?