Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life of Pi: Sublime beauty at it's finest.

Grabbed via impawards
First day, first show at GV Tampines
Life of Pi has already gotten rave reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, and this little review is going to be no different. I just got back from watching it at GV Tampines, and since it was a weekday morning timeslot for the first screening, I was lucky enough to get good seats right smack in the center row near the back, almost perfectly in the middle of the screen.
I have to admit right here that I have not read the book on which the movie is based on, and I was having slight doubts if I would end up not being able to follow through entirely. Once the movie got underway, right from the opening scene until the very last scene, I was hooked all the way.

Grabbed via
Life of Pi is a film which could best be described as an experience. Even though I only caught the 2D version of the movie, the visuals and richness of the colours were just spectacular. Add those together with the surreal chain of events which unfold leading to our main character Pi having to come face to face with a Bengal tiger in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, is just only the tip of the iceberg. The ensuing events all blur the lines between reality and fiction, religion and faith, belief and the power of will. The moments where Pi reflects on the influences of various religions on his own character, and naively asking his father why one shouldn't be able to follow more than one religion, and his retort to his father's decision to move away from their home in India, are just one of the many memorable highlights in the film.

If anything at all, there is a very strong meditative, almost reflective quality which is prevalent throughout the film, at times bordering on the existential and what it means to be alive. The director doesn't rush the proceedings, there are no dizzying crazy edit shots frenetically jumping from one frame to the next. This is a movie that knows exactly what it is going for, and sticks with it.

The main bulk of the movie, with Pi having to use his wits and whatever he has at his disposal, to try to survive the elements in the middle of nowhere with a tiger in tow, harked back memories of Tom Hank's character in "Cast Away", as those familiar themes of hope and hopelessness crept in. The rocky relationship between Pi and the tiger is surprisingly interesting enough to carry the movie onwards till the end, and it is at this point where the visuals and the film start to speak for themselves. Speaking of visuals again, the sequence with a whole swarm of fish flying towards and over the heads of Pi and the tiger employed a reduced aspect ratio, allowing the fish to completely fly over the black bars on the top and bottom and create the illusion of breaking away from the frame, and this had me wishing I had those 3D glasses on to experience this fully.

Grabbed via
Grabbed via
Grabbed via
The surreal and the sublime combine together in a way I had not quite experienced before, giving Pi's journey a metaphysical elevation, where everything holds a duality in meaning. It is this duality that holds through till the end, with the twist which leaves it in the hands of the audience to decide which story to believe. Ultimately, I believe that this is not a story that will "make you believe in God" as one of the characters says at one point, but rather, this is a story that will sweep you away into a world where fantasy and reality become one and the same. Life of Pi is a sensitively woven tale of a young man's journey to rediscovering himself, told in a surreal manner of epic proportions. This definitely deserves to be seen and experienced on the big screen.

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