Life Of Pi must be the most beautiful film of the year, a technical marvel, and magic realism at its most magical. Anyone who has read Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel will know that it tells the story of an Indian teenager named Pi (Suraj Sharma) shipwrecked in a lifeboat with a ravenous Bengal tiger.
They encounter many marvels — a sky full of flying fish, an ocean swimming with iridescent jellyfish, a carnivorous island. All these wonders and more are brought to the screen with dreamlike intensity.
Ang Lee has brought to the screen a seemingly unfilmable story with breathtaking mastery of computer animation. His previous achievements — such as Brokeback Mountain, Sense And Sensibility and The Ice Storm — have shown him to be one of the most versatile directors on the planet. This is up there with the best of them.
It isn’t perfect. It does not fulfil its promise of making us believe in God; on the contrary, it reminds us more of human resilience, thanks in part to an extraordinary performance by the inexperienced leading actor.
The twist ending, which calls into question the veracity of all that has gone before, is of questionable merit. But it certainly shows how story-tellers embellish the truth in order to bring out its deeper meaning.
Though it’s more a feast for the eyes than food for thought, the lyricism and visual magnificence makes Life Of Pi an unmissable experience. And do see it in a good cinema.