January 12, 2013

Life of Pi

Of all the movies I've seen, I think this is the time my expectations were almost all wrong. For starters, I really had no idea of the movie. I've heard of it before but never knew the story, never knew the characters, not even the tiger. Then when I heard about the movie, I still wasn't able to familiarize myself about the story, except that there was a tiger involved. Then I thought the whole movie would be on sea with just the boy and the tiger (I didn't figure out that Pi was the name of the boy). I thought the setting will be this just small frame, a small part of the sea, but I couldn't have been more wrong. And although I'm a fan of restricted settings, sort of like Buried, I didn't think I would like the movie. Not that I didn't like the idea of it, it was more of being indifferent towards it.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie. Like I said, I didn't expect to like the movie, but after seeing it, it was just unexpected. I appreciated it and found myself incredibly surprised by how much I really got into it. I appreciated several elements in the film. I appreciated the actors. I appreciated the story even more. It was a bunch of spectacular ingredients that made the movie just exquisite.

For starters, I really enjoyed the fact that the movie was somehow humorous. Right from the beginning, it shattered at least some expectations about how heavy the movie was going to be. At least for me who had absolutely no idea what the movie was about. But I really liked the fact that I was laughing and already enjoying myself from the beginning. How he got the name, how he got the nickname, how he struggled at school, how he grew up with different religions, and much more. It was that freshness and lightness in the beginning that drew me into the movie. The conversation of the writer and Pi made escalated it even just with their exchange of words. The dialogues were clear and it drove the story very well.

Then the shipwreck happened and it became more serious. They didn't stop with the humor but it definitely got serious, dramatic, and well, still surprising. The cinematography of the shipwreck was tragic and breathtaking at the same time. It was like Titanic meets Cast Away really. Except this time there were animals involved. And this time, instead of a volleyball, the kid got a tiger to keep him company. But the interaction between those two have been a roller coaster ride. It added danger to the trip, as if being stuck in a small boat in the middle of the Pacific wasn't scary enough. It elevated the hardships, the fear, the loneliness experienced by the kid. It's even hard to know that the kid just lost his family, everything he knew, and right after he had to fight for his own survival. How do you find time to grieve while fighting for your life.

The start of his life on the boat was already dangerous when a mad hyena was running around the boat. Then the tiger appeared and it all changed. How do you live with a vicious creature, one that is on a confined space with you with nothing to eat. The concept of it, however absurd it may seem, was actually very effective I thought. How you use your resources while keeping not only  your self but also a tiger alive. But the way he managed to do so is not only impressive but also commendable. It was a real portrayal of courage and hope, which I think the movie was all about. As it said more than once, never give up hope.

I was absolutely stunned by how great the actors were in this movie. I didn't know anyone of them (but I'm sure I will be seeing more of them pretty soon), and I know that this was the first acting experience of Suraj Sharma. But man was he good. He wasn't without flaw, but for a newcomer he was really good. Ang Lee definitely made a good choice to take the kid. In fact I like the fact that Lee didn't want superstars for a film of this caliber. Lee chose to showcase the potential and talents of newcomers, and I like the idea of the hope that this movie will create new superstars, just like Sharma. Rafe Spall, although a supporting character in the movie, was also note-worthy as he depicted his scenes as a writer, and more importantly, as a listener to Pi's story. I knew Tobey Maguire was supposed to be the one for the role, but Lee re-shot the whole thing with Spall. Not a bad choise either. Irrfan Khan was definitely a star of the movie. As the adult Pi, he managed to hold on to the emotions Pi had as a teen. The sense of hope was present in character, without a doubt.

Life of Pi was an magnificent movie. As of now, you probably have heard of the Oscar nominations and the movie earned 11 nominations, and Lee is up for Best Director, and the movie is up for Best Picture. I have yet to see the other contenders but Life of Pi deserves the recognition it got from the Academy. It has grossed almost 300 million dollars worldwide, and I think it will get even more, with the Oscar buzz, and also through its opening in other markets. I wish the movie the best of luck, for only the surprises it had for me. I absolutely enjoyed it.

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