Movie review: ��Life of Pi�۪ (2012)

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Newcomer Suraj Sharma in 'Life Of Pi'
Newcomer Suraj Sharma in 'Life Of Pi'

Director: Ang Lee

Producers: Ang Lee, Gil Netter & David Womark

*ing: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gerard Depardieu & Rafe Spall.

2012 has indeed been a great year at the movies. And what better way to end the year than with Ang Lee�۪s near perfect adaptation of ��Life of Pi�۪ – based on a book of the same name by Yann Martel.

The plot begins in present day when a novelist approaches a middle aged Pi Patel, (Irrfan Khan) ��� an immigrant from India living in Canada. The reason? The novelist has been told that Pi�۪s astounding story would make a great novel.

Pi begins recounting his story which starts off in Pondicherry, India, where we are told his real name is actually “Piscine Molitor” ��� named after a swimming pool in France, but after much ridicule in school he changes his name to Pi. Pi is fascinated with animals seemingly because he interacts with them every day (his family owns a zoo), and he�۪s particularly fascinated with a majestic Bengali tiger curiously named Richard Parker.

Unfortunately, Pi�۪s father (played by Adil Hussain)��is forced to close the zoo down due to political turbulence, inevitably forcing him to make the tough decision of emigrating to North America along with his family and the animals from the zoo (which he plans to sell).

Newcomer Suraj Sharma in 'Life Of Pi'
Newcomer Suraj Sharma in 'Life Of Pi'

They book passage on a Japanese freighter, but along the way the ship gets caught up in a storm and sinks, leaving Pi as the sole human survivor on a hapless little lifeboat. He’s joined on the boat by the unlikeliest of companions ��� a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and of course, the object of his fascination – the Bengali tiger. The hyena goes on to kill both the zebra and the orangutan, shortly after which the tiger kills the hyena leaving Pi with just the carnivore aboard the boat and a vast empty ocean around him.

How Pi survives the perils of the ocean, with his volatile companion and embarks on a voyage of self discovery forms the crux of this amazing story which has to be experienced on the big screen to be fully appreciated.

What Ang Lee has achieved here is nothing short of a cinematic spectacle. The 3D sequences (notably the scenes with the flying fish, the humpback whale and the island full of meerkats to name a few), have to be seen to be believed. Lee merges adventure, hope, spirituality, philosophy and religion into one magnificent film and the way in which he utilises visuals and turns them into metaphors is admirable. For once, the 3D is not obtrusive, but instead blends beautifully with the film and actually enhances the whole cinematic experience.

Newcomer Suraj Sharma in 'Life Of Pi'
Newcomer Suraj Sharma in 'Life Of Pi'

Of the cast, newcomer Suraj Sharma (the teenage Pi), around whose character most of the film is based, is the find of the year. It’s hard to believe that this is in fact his first film ��� the hope, the desperation, the fear and the whole gamut of emotions that he portrays is astounding.��Comparatively,��Khan and Tabu have much less screen time but do full justice to their parts, whilst Depardieu is effective in his bit part as the evil French cook.��Richard Parker, the Bengali tiger is of course mostly CGI, but the effects are so bang on you�۪ll be hard pressed to believe that any CGI was used at all.

Lee should be applauded for projecting an award winning book so flawlessly. Scenes which may have seemed ridiculous on paper come alive on screen, and the way in which the relationship between the tiger and Pi develops is especially well done. The parts where man and tiger mark their territories, the way in which they evoke fear in one another, and how they ultimately form an alliance are the most compelling parts of this masterpiece.

Even if you haven�۪t read the book, ��Life Of Pi�۪ works incredibly well as a standalone film. Pre-book your tickets now for this cinematic marvel and what is without a doubt, one of the finest films of the year. Unmissable. Take a bow Ang Lee.

BizAsia Showbiz rating:��4.5/5

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