Oscar Review: Life of Pi (Best Picture)
Director: Ang Lee
Writers: David Majes, Yann Martel (book)
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
Synopsis: A young man, Pi, survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery.
Life of Pi is visually out of this world and reason enough to warrant an Oscar nomination for Ang Lee, who won for Brokeback Mountain. But then you add in the fact that Lee shot this almost entirely in sequence with a relatively unknown cast and nearly lifelike CGI animals serving as major characters and it’s easy to see why he could win on Sunday. Plus, the way Lee utilizes 3D, with it being subtle and immersive and not gimmicky, is something that hasn’t been done since Avatar.
Based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name, many have called Life of Pi “unfilmable.” But with Lee and an adaptation by David Majes, that is far from the case. The overall structure works well with an older Pi telling a writer about his adventure, letting us experience it just as the writer is hearing it. With that being said, however, some may lose their patience with the slow pace (although it’s never boring), its spiritual undertones and an ending that isn’t straightforward.
Suraj Sharma is special as the title character, Pi. Most of his scenes take place in a boat with a CGI tiger and the way he’s able to interact with something that isn’t even there and show so much emotion when sometimes nothing is being said is something most actors just can’t do – especially when they’ve never acted before. That’s right: Sharma has no other acting credits to his name, which makes his performance even more astounding.
Mychael Danna’s Oscar-nominated and India-infused score is both beautiful and haunting. It is used to its full effect in Life of Pi as it sometimes has to set the scene when there isn’t much being done or said. The highlight of the score is the Oscar-nominated “Pi’s Lullaby,” as it’s just a soothing piece with vocals by Bombay Jayashri.
Overall Grade: B+