UK Release date: 20th December 2012
Watched at the Picture House, K-Town Friday 28th December 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Although I haven’t read the book, I have heard an awful lot about this film since its release. The media are positively buzzing about this one and so I was very pleased that the Picture House in K-Town (my local cinema) decided to show it. So myself and a couple of friends (yes, I got some of those too) took a trip and enjoyed an evening with the ‘Life of Pi’. The subject of much debate at the end, mainly about what it all meant, but certainly a film I’d like to see again, but maybe after reading the book this time. Here’s a very brief summary.
We are told the story of Pi, or to give him his full name; Piscine Molitor Patel. It is told in flashback as the adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) relates his tale to a writer (Rafe Spall). We hear about his early years in India and how his father Santosh Patel (Adil Hussain) met his mother, Gita (Tabu), and how she taught him about the Hindu religion. He subsequently discovered other religions along the way. They ran a Zoo but the city council owned the land it was on and so Santosh decided they were going to move to Canada; taking the animals with them. While crossing the Pacific on a Japanese freighter, they are struck by a massive storm and Pi finds himself the only survivor. He is stranded on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. What follows is an amazing tale of survival that I don’t quite have the words to describe and so I’ll leave it here (the film is much better than anything I could write anyway).
First off, it looks stunning; every shot has been meticulously worked out and executed with a high degree of skill and care. The VFX are quite amazing (I have to say for the record that I watched it in 2D). For me the film is in three parts, the story of Pi before he leaves India, the story on the ocean and the story when he makes it to land. It’s the middle section I found the most compelling; every time there’s a cut-away from the boat I couldn’t wait to get back. A very metered pace to proceedings allows the audience to become enwrapped in this tale. Ang Lee is very good at this kind of filmmaking and I have to applaud him for this particular effort. Over all, visually stunning and beautifully made; I thought the young actor Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi on the boat was truly excellent in the role. It may not be to everyone’s taste (too few explosions for some I suspect), but I certainly enjoyed it – it’s well worth a look.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 8.2/10
IMDb Score: 8.3/10 (based on 38,989 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 79/100: (Based on 44 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 90/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 37,155 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Santosh Patel: You think tiger is your friend, he is an animal, not a playmate.
Pi Patel: Animals have souls... I have seen it in their eyes.
Adult Pi Patel: What has mamaji already told you?
Writer: He said you had a story that would make me believe in God.
Adult Pi Patel: [laughs] He would say that about a nice meal.
Santosh Patel: We will sail like Columbus.
Pi Patel: But Columbus was looking for India!
Adult Pi Patel: Now we have to send our little boy to the middle of the Pacific.
Writer: And make me believe in God.
Adult Pi Patel: Yes, we will get there.
Adult Pi Patel: I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.
Writer: [reading off the report] Mr. Patel's is an astounding story, courage and endurance unparalleled in the history of ship-wrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.