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Life Of Pi

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
November 21, 2012 1:00 AM
3 Comments
  • |
Photo by Peter Sorel - Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

A book that many people considered unfilmable has inspired one of the year’s most riveting and rewarding movies. I don’t like using hype words, but I found Life of Pi truly magical. I’m even enthusiastic about its use of 3-D, which seems organic and genuinely enhances the film. Another jargon word I’ve come to dislike is “immersive,” yet it is the best way to describe the experience of watching Life of Pi. Rather than observing it from a distance we’re made to feel part of its leading character’s remarkable odyssey.

Life of Pi is about many things, but first and foremost it is about storytelling, so it is fitting that its protagonist narrates his own story—first, as an adult (played by Irrfan Khan) recounting his adventures to a writer he has just met (Rafe Spall), and then in the voice of his younger self.

Newcomer Suraj Sharma captures and commands the screen as a young man who has never fit in with his peers. His family doesn’t understand his boundless curiosity about life, although they have stirred much of it by giving him a provocatively unusual name (Piscine—or Pi for short) and raising him in the midst of an exotic zoo in Pondicherry, India. Circumstance, or fate, sees him shipwrecked on a sailboat with four of those animals, although only one survives: a 450-pound Bengal tiger quixotically named Richard Parker.

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

It is at once a story of survival, a quest for enlightenment, a meditation on what matters most in life, and more. Yann Martel’s allegorical novel, and this thoughtful adaptation by David Magee, can be taken as literally or as symbolically as one chooses. In the hands of director Ang Lee it becomes something rare and precious: a film that makes the impossible seem real and the implausible a thing of wonder.

The work of an army of CGI artists has negated the old adage that seeing is believing. Even though our rational mind may tell us that Richard Parker is not a real tiger, our moviegoing consciousness says otherwise rather forcefully. Life of Pi offers a phantasmagoria, lulling us into a kind of dream-state where reality and imagination blur in the most beguiling way.

Please don’t wait to watch this at home: find the best theater near you, don those 3-D glasses, and prepare to be taken on a magic carpet ride. 

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3 Comments

  • Claude Wolf | December 26, 2012 3:58 PMReply

    This is one of the most spectacular movies I have ever seen. It is simply stunning and must be seen in 3D.

  • Kerr Lockhart | December 5, 2012 2:46 PMReply

    I hate "ditto" comments, but I have to ditto everything Leonard says. This is not just a "best of the year" it is sui generis -- an epic of the voyage into the heart of the self. See it in 3D. It is amazing, stunning, staggering, breath-taking. The rest of the audience and I could not help vocalizing frequently throughout the film as we "felt" its events. I am worried that it's lack of blockbuster status will make it fall off people's "must-see" list, but you really, really must if you are any fancier of film, literature, spirituality, soul and the world unseen.

  • Jeffrey | November 25, 2012 10:10 AMReply

    Its definitely a memorable film.

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