Friday, November 30, 2012

Life of Pi in 300 Words or Less

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It doesn't happen very often but once in awhile a movie will come along that manages to talk about faith and spirituality (the latter a word that I gag on now, so steeped in malarkey has it become) in a way that doesn't raise my heckles, and Life of Pi did a pretty decent job of it. It's more content to ask questions that really try to give answers - unlike Terrence Malick, Ang Lee isn't convinced he has captured and pinned down the face of god in his viewfinder.

Oh Ang gives us plenty of pretty to gawk at, and he suffuses every ounce of it with deeply religious parable, but he's also content to just get down to the brass tax of it and rip us a yarn. And one that doesn't feel the need to tear right up his own ass, imagine that! (Yes I'm still angry at The Tree of Life - sue me.) Life of Pi works best when it's about the pragmatic details - the hows of Pi's survival. I suppose that's just the atheist in me, subscribing to the realism parts while waving away the shots of galaxies floating inside tiger eyeballs... well so be it.

All this said, the film only half worked for me - it feels long, and while I get the importance of the framing device in spelling out the theme, especially at the end, it always felt intrusive and superfluous to me, as these things always do - in a story about the life or death struggle a single human character, robbing me of the whole "death" half of the equation by showing me him as an old dude, happy and healthy and fine, just deflates too much possible tension. 
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3 comments:

zyzzyva said...

Happy to hear it isn't terrible, but in all honesty, I will see it for the herd of meerkats.

Shags said...

I thought it was an interesting choice to show Pi as an old man early on because instead of wondering whether or not Pi survives this ordeal, all that emotion transferred over to Richard Parker's survival.

JA said...

It's a good observation, Shags, and you're probably right there - it fits with the movie's ambitions towards the human projection towards animals, that's for sure. I do think it leaves a bit of an emotional vacuum around Pi though.