A writer (Rafe Spall) in search of a good story gets the hint that Pi (Irrfan Khan) has an interesting one to tell. So he asks for an interview and hears all about how Pi was shipwrecked and ended up alone on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger – Richard Parker. As if survival alone at sea wasn’t difficult enough. But with the shipwreck, Pi’s journey is only beginning.
I read the book a few years ago and I really didn’t like it. But Ang Lee was enough to draw me into the film anyway. And I am glad I went. Despite the movie’s constant attempts to force god down your throat. The movie was just that beautiful.
I honestly thought that of the spiritual fantasy movies with a whole lot of visual style that came out in the past couple of monthy, Cloud Atlas would be the one I’d be able to forget the spiritual side of and enjoy it; and Life of Pi would be too much for my atheistic self. And while Life of Pi is much more on the nose with its esoteric crap, it is also so incredibly stunning that it actually makes up for that. When I wasn’t busy rolling my eyes, I sat there with my mouth open and drinking in those sights.
Nevertheless I couldn’t help but wish that the movie would have cut the framing story (especially because it did have a couple of lengths, though nothing too bad) and most of the voice over. Start about 5 minutes before the ship goes down, end it with Pi’s rescue on the beach and you got yourself a great film. [Or, if you put it on mute, you’ve got the perfect screensaver.]
Unfortunately, the movie’s ending stuck to the book’s ending and that is one of the most insulting endings in the history of endings. It’s insulting to the audience who are not allowed to think for themselves and it’s insulting to the movie itself that apparently doesn’t trust in its own storytelling. So you get an ending that is pretty much spelling out the OED definition of metaphor for you and that is just annoying.
And despite all of that, they managed to make it work. They managed to keep me enthralled and they managed that I didn’t want to strangle them with their own piety. So, my hat’s off.
Summarising: If they had just kept god out of this story… but even so, it’s beautiful.