"It's a film-makers orgasm."
That was the words that my friend used to describe 'Life of Pi', and why he loved it so much. Ever since the trailer was released, I knew that this film would be one to watch, but I could never anticipate just how amazing it would be.
'Life of Pi' looks at the life of Piscene Molitor Patel (Pi for short). Pi, as an adult, recounts stories from his childhood and adolescence, discussing how he came to follow three separate religions at the same time, as well as reflecting the tragic loss that he experienced when he was a teenager, after the ship that he and his family were travelling on sank due to storm damage. The tale he tells is one of survival, faith and never giving up hope.
Suraj Sharma, the actor who played Pi as a teenager, has had no prior acting experience in terms of TV shows or movies, and once you see his acting, I guarantee you that you'll find that hard to believe. He's a complete natural. His role, which involves a lot of CGI work and time where he is the only actor on-screen would have proved difficult for even experienced actors, and for him to tackle the difficulties of shooting this particular film, for his first lead-acting role, he truly deserves the award buzz that his performance is generating.
Ang Lee's directing was wonderful. 'Life of Pi' has been compared to 'Avatar', but Lee, unlike Cameron, never lets the story play second fiddle to visuals. As overwhelmingly flawless the visuals may be, they only exist to contribute to the storyline. Nothing more, and nothing less. There are certain scenes that may not be that emotional when describing them to others, but when you are watching them, in the moment, are enough to reduce you to tears. The two that stand out would be the scene in which Richard Parker refuses to look back at Pi, and one where the vegetarian Pi has to eat a fish in order to survive, and he essentially breaks down and shouts "Thank you for coming in the form of fish and saving our lives". It doesn't sound like anything profound, but there's something about the way that the scene was shot that just took my breath away.
The one shot that cements my love for the cinematography in this film comes when Pi is underwater, directly after the ship has sunk. You can see the boat, the final resting place of his entire family, on the sea-bed, a short distance away. Pi is in the foreground, completely alone, just floating there, staring at the shipwreck. The overwhelming sounds of the crashing waves or shouting has become nothing more than quiet, underwater ambience and the shot just lingers on screen for a while, allowing the viewer to put themselves in the mind of Pi. There are scenes that are more visually breath-taking, and there are scenes that more complex, but for me, that was by far the most beautiful and lasting image of the entire film.
I'm so glad to see this film being nominated for so many Oscars, but it genuinely does deserve every single one. Catch it in cinemas whilst you still can!