Weekly rewind: November 29
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2012
11/29/12 at 2:47 AM
"Life of Pi"
Rating: (on a scale of zero to four stars)
In watching "Life of Pi" for the purposes of writing a review, I took brief notes, as I always do. In transcribing those notes after the film, I realized I had written the same word again and again: beautiful.
Director Ang Lee has, in films including "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," to "Brokeback Mountain" and "Lust, Caution," proven his eye for elegance. The man makes films that you could pause at any point, and the image on the screen would be suitable for framing.
"Life of Pi" largely concentrates on the story of a teen boy from India stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger as a companion.
Of course, Lee finds beauty in the ocean blue, from the power of a whale emerging from the waters to the glory of hundreds of jellyfish creating a light show beneath the waters.
But he can also see beauty in the fearsome strength of Mother Nature, the symmetry of man and animal alone in the world fighting for survival, and the grace in another creature's touch when all hope is fading.
Beauty is all around us, and Lee recognizes these gifts of the natural world.
The movie based on Yann Martel's best-selling book is more about belief systems and religious faith than any other theme besides the boy-and-tiger plot, but it's all part of the same concept.
"Faith is a house with many rooms, (and still with) room for doubt on many floors," says the title character as an adult, who as a youth in India opened himself to the teaching of Hinduism, as well as those of Christianity, the Islamic faith and others.
Irrfan Khan (the star from India known for "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Namesake") plays the adult Khan as a man telling his story to a writer (Rafe Spall) whose friend directed him to Pi as "a man with a story that will make you believe in God."
Khan is superb, as are the two other actors who portray younger versions of Pi, in a film that begins in India and will remind of "Slumdog Millionaire" in its having a cast of performers unknown to American audiences but who will prove hard to forget.
Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) and a fierce Bengal tiger named Richard Parker must rely on each other to survive an epic journey. Twentieth Century Fox/Courtesy