Tuesday, November 27, 2012
It's a story too incredible to believe. But choosing what to believe—along with the sheer power of storytelling—is exactly the point of Life of Pi, Yann Martel's bestselling novel of faith, destiny, courage and survival, now made into a magnificent-looking film by director Ang Lee. Martel's 2002 novel of a teenage boy and a Bengal tiger shipwrecked together in a small lifeboat in the middle of the vast Pacific was long considered unfilmable (at least, as a live-action movie)—until Lee came on board.
A craftsman who never makes the same film twice, Lee is renowned for his sensitive handling of diverse, often daunting material, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, to Brokeback Mountain. With careful attention to Martel's core theme—the search for God (in whatever guise) through astounding adversity—Lee turns the material into a visually rapturous and ecstatic spiritual journey that's also a breathtaking adventure saga. Kudos to cinematographer Claudio Miranda (TRON: Legacy; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) for providing such stunning visuals to go with Lee's delicate narrative of loss and redemption.
Life of Pi is rated PG, which basically means no sex or naughty words, but that doesn't mean it's a kids' movie. Besides brief scenes of animals attacking and/or eating other animals, a bigger problem for very young children is all the talking, which will bore them silly. The verbosity of the bracketing story gets a bit wearisome for adults, too. Pondering the quest for (or death of) spirituality may have resonated more on the printed page, but onscreen, all we care about is getting back out on the water and the delirious fever dream at the heart of Lee's hypnotic film. (Read more)