‘I have a story to tell you, it happened long ago. I’m doing it like this so you know I’m alright, so don’t worry when you see me out there at sea in the past. Wouldn’t want to think that the tiger could actually eat me!’
Despite the rather pointless present day opening which kills any overall tension on Pi’s journey at sea, a thing films like to do for a reason I’ve yet to gather, Life Of Pi gets a lot right. It slowly builds up the character of Pi who ends up shipwrecked at sea with a tiger, a problem with zoo transportation at sea, and once we get to the main event we see a character who’s lost it all. And might end up as cat food. But Pi has strong survival skills as he clings on to hope. The tiger doesn’t suddenly become all cuddly, and instead Pi must train the wild animal. For a film which provides for all ages, it’s refreshing to sea the animals act like animals. They scratch, they bite and they eat each other. No Lion and Meerkat relationship here, not until it has to do the whole character progression shtick. But thankfully this progression doesn’t feel too forced.
It’s remarkable how they can keep such a long sea voyage between human and animal on such a tiny boat so interesting. The stunning scenery helps as it makes great use of sea reflections and night-time visionary, giving it a dream like quality. It feels like the voyage is always moving, even when not a whole lot happens when you break it down into pieces. The feeling of padding and film dragging doesn’t come till the very end which is away from all the wonder of Pi’s predicament, and instead provides a long-winded discussion on stories which feels wrenched in to try to provide some purpose to the whole thing. A story of human/animal relationships and survival should be good enough for most, but it insists on being cocky with varying story choices which pops up without any of the style and charm seen in the rest of the movie.
Life Of Pi is a grand journey and a visual delight. If it kept the present out of proceedings this would be the shipwreck of a lifetime. But shipwrecks must always contain something tragic. Remember, Wilson? Wilsoooon!!!!