Film #80: Life of Pi (2012)

Life_of_Pi_20_2543879kdirector: Ang Lee
language: English with Tamil, French, Japanese
length: 127 minutes
watched on: 6 March 2013

I saw this the same day that I finished the last book – I even cycled all the way to Shinjuku to go to the cinema! I wasn’t sure before going in whether it’d be something that’d appeal to me, so I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The story is effectively told, with the conceit that it’s being told by the adult version of the main character Pi, now living in Canada. Despite having many fantastic side-elements and generally being unbelievable/incredible, it’s filmed and narrated well, and the shortcomings don’t matter.

I’ve seen Life of Pi on bookshelves a lot and always wondered why he was called Pi and whether this had anything to do with the famous irrational number, so to have that answered in the opening sequence of the movie was pleasing. Similarly, for a frighteningly simple plot (boy ends up alone on a lifeboat with a tiger after a shipwreck), it’s not often been described simply to me in the past before the film came out. Perhaps the book has many extra parts that were cut from the film?

Anyway, this is one of those films where most of the acting comes from one lone character, the teenaged Pi – most breaks in the action were back to Montreal where adult Pi was telling the story to a Canadian hipster (maybe the author of the book, in theory?). They were a little jarring, to tell the truth. The boy actor was pretty good in general, but his delivery could be a little wooden sometimes.

The direction of the film was probably the best part – I especially liked a dream sequence that went into the ocean, with beautiful colours and all kinds of sealife. I think that might be the best sequence to sum up the movie in many ways.

Perhaps I could have done without so much focus on religion, although that focus is very central to the story. I guess that’s just not my thing. The film does manage to undermine itself in that respect towards the end, though. The ending was quite effective but a bit rushed.

These problems aren’t any reason not to see the film, however. I’d recommend watching it when it comes out on DVD, if you haven’t already.


One Response to Film #80: Life of Pi (2012)

  1. Hans says:

    I didn’t watch the film, but I read the book, so I can help out on one point – the “hipster” Pi tells his story to in Canada is indeed the author of the book (or his stand-in – the book is framed as a “true story” which the author-narrator only records). The book is a good read, and going by your review and what I heard from people who watched the film, this seems to be one of the rare cases when an enjoyable book was made into an enjoyable fim.

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