Sunday, October 13, 2013

Easy as Pi

Ang Lee's Life of Pi (2012) is one of the movies Ms.Spenser saw without me in FL, so we wanted to watch it together - to keep my life experience synched with hers. But we were both concerned: would it be too slow, or a bring down? What could a movie set in a lifeboat do, I worried, to keep interest up? (No, I haven't seen the Hitchcock movie). At least I knew it would be beautiful.

So, after getting the disk and sending it back unwatched once or twice, we dug in. It was, indeed, beautiful.

It is the story of an Indian boy, nicknamed Pi, stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger. It is framed by the adult Pi telling the story to a novelist. The story starts in Pondicherry, where Pi is raised in the zoo his family runs. It is a sweet life, with friends, religion and an awakening romance. Then they are uprooted to go to Canada on a freighter, and Pi and a few of the zoo animals are cast adrift in a lifeboat.

This makes up the bulk of the movie - the lifeboat, the tiger, the sea, the sky. The struggle to survive, to avoid being eaten by the tiger, and even to keep the tiger alive. And it is incredibly beautiful. The sunlit clouds, the still waters, deep-sea luminescence at night. The tiger, lovingly animated, like almost all of the rest Sharaj Sharma, the actor playing Pi, is also very beautiful, if I may say so.

The story is also a good one, although you may find it a touch pretentious. There's an antidote for that contained within the movie, though. The author in the framestory, listening to adult Pi telling the tale, is subtly drawn as a bit of a nitwit. Pi himself, both in the frame and in the lifeboat, is a bit of a clown, with great ideas about survival, tiger taming, etc. that aren't quite as smart as he seems to think. (It took me a while to decide that Ang Lee was doing this on purpose.)

So, lovely thoughtful story that's not as pretentious as we feared, and not boring at all. Glad we watched it together.

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