Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Film Review: Life of Pi

An adaptation of Yann Martel's novel of the same name, Life of Pi is a beautifully crafted piece of cinematic eye-candy that wins over the eyes, the mind, the heart and the soul. It is a gripping tale of triumph in adversity and enlightenment that will open the minds of many. 

En route to a new life in Canada, Pi (Suraj Sharma) is left stranded at sea with a collection of zoo animals (a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger to be precise) after the ship his family are travelling on is ravaged by a gigantic storm.

Despite Pi's journey of soul-searching and religious experiences, the film doesn't come across as preachy or overly pious. Whilst the older version of Pi describes his story as "one that'll make you believe in God", the film allows for the audience to take as much or as little as they like from it.

After all, as the older incarnation of Pi says himself "Why does it need to mean anything?". If not taken in by the plethora of existential meaning through which the film wades, each and every member of the audience can come away feeling content on some level. Whether you come away feeling inspired by the teachings of religion or awed by the human dedication and resilience told through the titular character's ordeal, you won't leave empty handed. Even if you take nothing away emotionally, Life of Pi will win you over with its lush visuals that leap from the screen.

Case in point is the marvel that feline companion, Richard Parker. Faced with creating a primary character that walks and talks like a real animal entirely through a mixture of CGI and animatronics (much like Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes), the end result is one that boggles the mind.

Not only does Richard Parker look so flawless that he may actually be there, but he is a character crafted so delicately and convincingly that he takes on human depth by the film's end. It is however, Suraj Sharma who leaves the greatest impression.

In his first acting role, Sharma doesn't come across as shaky, wooden or uncertain of his own ability. He effectively is able to manage the character's development from despair, to bravery and hope to resourcefulness and finally, broken and damaged.

With a dash of something for everyone one, Life of Pi is both an emotional and a visual experience that you cant' afford to miss. Whether you connect spiritually or just revel at the vibrant colours of the ocean and the engrossing shades on Richard Parker's fur, you won't fail to be impressed and uplifted by this spirited tale of human emotion and survival.

I give Life of Pi: 8.5/10

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