|Pi and Richard lost at sea.|
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by Gil Netter, Ang Lee, and David Womark
Written by David Magee (screenplay); Yann Martel (novel)
Starring Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan, Rafe Spall, and Gerard Depardieu
Ang Lee's new film is a tale for all audiences - young and old, cinephile or casual filmgoer. Piscine Molitor Patel (Kahn), known as Pi, is a man who has traveled a long spiritual journey, embracing Hinduism, Catholicism, and Islam. What is even more interesting is that he survived a shipwreck when he was a boy (Sharma), being lost at sea for over 200 days. As the adult Pi recounts to a writer (Spall), he dealt with the death of his family, struggled to accept his maker's will, and faced numerous physical dangers, such as starvation, dehydration, and being eaten alive by sharks. But that isn't all Pi went through. During these months at sea, he was confined to a raft that was attached to a lifeboat…with a tiger named Richard Parker onboard. Facing the elements, Pi learned to live with the animal, only to grow old and be able to tell his story years later. It's a heartwarming story that makes for a wonderful cinematic experience.
This might sound like a daunting adventure, but it is a pleasant one, to be sure. Ang Lee has made several beautiful films, and this is one of them. However, the film does have its ups and downs. Not surprisingly, the film is at its best when Pi and Richard are lost at sea. The rest of the film is not as powerful, though the end does provide the necessary closure for Pi and the writer. A big budget film usually relies on casting famous stars, but this one, thankfully, does not. With the possible exceptions of Khan and Depardieu, the cast is full of unknown actors. Refreshingly, the cast pulls it off, with Suraj Sharma delivering a touching performance as the young Pi. Given that this is a blockbuster, the technical crafts are also exemplary. Claudio Miranda's cinematography is gorgeous, but the dazzling visual effects contribute a tremendous amount to the look of the film. And it looks spectacular. Many shots are lush paintings, yet the F/X work on the Bengal tiger is worth noting as well. Lee's film is finely crafted, and it is an uplifting story that Oscar is sure to notice. In this case, that's a very good thing.
Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects