It's always more difficult to write about a film that you don't have strong feelings for and Life of Pi (2012) is one of those films. Shown as part of the Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club night I'm afraid I found it uninvolving and unemotional, but to be fair I think the audience was divided between those that really liked the film and those who, like myself, had reservations.
Our vary capable host for the evening was again Julie McMorran who had done a splendid job introducing The Hunt (2012) a couple of weeks ago. After welcoming a large group of HNC Animal Care students from the Barony College Julie told us that Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Yann Martel, which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction the following year. The film was directed by Taiwanese born Ang Lee who has worked on films as varied as Ride With The Devil (1999), the award winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Brokeback Mountain (2005) which won him an Academy Award for Best Director, Lust and Caution (2007) and Taking Woodstock (2009).
True to the book the story revolves around a 16-year-old Indian boy from Pondicherry, Piscine Molitor Patel named after a French swimming pool, but known as “Pi”. Along with his family and the animals from a Zoo his fathers managed, they set sail for North America to start a new life. When a storm hits the ship it sinks with all hands, passengers and animals, except Pi, a zebra, a hyena, a female orang-utan and a rather large Bengal tiger called Richard Parker that, as fate would have it, end up together on a lifeboat each fighting for survival. It’s these 227 days a drift at sea that populates the bulk of the screen time.
Julie did say to us that although the film has been nominated for 11 awards at the 85th Academy Awards the critics were divided on the merits of the film, a fact reflected by the discussion following the screening. I think everyone in the cinema was in aura of the films technical aspects especially the CGI tiger that seemed totally realistic and appeared quite capable of eating his fellow passenger’s. This was no doubt that this is a visually stunning movie with spell binding images. But as I said there were reservations, some of which involved the ending that was a little spurious to say the least with its issue of spirituality i.e. if you believe the tiger version of his story then for some reason, which is beyond me, you must believe in God, fairy stories more like.
I personally felt both unmoved and uninvolved by the movies weak and nondescript narrative. Halfway through the film my concentration, like the lifeboat drifted, and it was from then on, I’m sorry to say, I lost complete interest in the story.