The Life Of Pi

Director: Ang Lee

Lead Actors

Plot Synopsis
The tale is told as one that will "make you believe in God" to a Canadian journalist who has lost is way and is looking for a great story to tell in the form of a novel.

Pi, as an older man, tells it. He recounts his journey to (spoiler alert) survival after a deadly Japanese Freight boat sinks in the middle of the ocean during a trip from India to Canada.

In a truly odd twist of events, Pi eventually ends up sharing his journey on a life boat with "Richard Parker" - a Bengal Tiger.

As their boat, with no motor or paddles, seemingly floats aimlessly for months, the two are left to their own devices to find food enough and shelter from storms for survival. Parker, the Tiger, throughout the entire voyage, wants nothing less than to kill Pi.

Who Would Like It
Fans of the fantastic. Because that is what this journey is. It actually starts with a Zebra, a baboon, and a laughing hyena in the boat as well. Later on, it ends up being Pi and Richard Parker - mano a cato!

Pi is a dreamy-eyed fantastical boy with an immense imagination, and in the beginning of the movie in French-settled India, we are welcomed to see the world through his eyes. What a world it is!

The cinematography, of course, is fantastic. The animals are epic. My favorite was Ang Lee's depiction of the animals that lurked underneath Pi's and Parker's boat, as much as the ones who resided above or on the boat. During one psychedelic nightmare wherein the dehydrated and famished Pi is losing his sanity, he has a visually stunning nightmare of fish and sea monsters, some real, some the figments of his imagination- that was neon and great!.

Also, near the end of his journey, Pi comes across some sort of island in the middle of the ocean that is caked with seaweed, populated by Marmots and fresh water pools. One has to wonder, if this, and several other elements of the journey, were within Pi's imaginative brain and tools to keep him busy and alive during a very scary time. All these are depicted as if real, and amazingly by Lee's crew!

Highlights/Top Scenes
Spoiler alert again, but, there are several, several instances where Parker tries to kill Pi, while they share the lifeboat. There is one instance where Pi tries to dominate Parker which ends in disaster. Pi has an amazing amount of sympathy and dedication to this tiger who wouldn't even hesitate at eating him. I counted twice when Pi had the upper hand and could have left the Tiger behind to die but did not.

But, Parker becomes a character in the story and this is a lot of fun. The connection between the two becomes emotiona. It will make you appreciate domesticated cats much much more in the futre.

Who Might Not Like It
The telling of Pi's life in India was amazing. It had a great ensemble of Indian actors, some of them very very beautiful, and all of them good. The ones who played PI as a young man were great. That was all interesting.

The story, though, is recounted from Montreal by Pi as an adult. The actor chosen to play Pi, well, seemed resigned, boring and like much of the life we saw in younger Pi had been sucked out of him. Perhaps that did happen during his struggles . . .but that is hard to believe because it would take so much life to survive something like that.

Also, the actor who played the Canadian journalist was weak and awful. Their scenes together made me feel like I was watching the Lifetime Network. Poorly executed.

Let it be said though that Lee, once again, has managed to evade being pinned to any sort of genre. This is the guy who did "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", "Brokeback Mountain" and the "Ice Storm", if you can find a through-line between those movies and Pi in terms of style or genre, be my guest, other than the fact that they are superior movies.

Indeed, Lee asserts his unquestionable talents with this yarn spun by a brave and creative young man. Three Mikes and Ikes.

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