The words to Paloma Faith ‘s song “Do you want the truth or something beautiful?” came into my head as the credits rolled at the end of Life of Pi tonight.
As I lifted my 3D glasses to rejoin the grey world of the multiplex after 2 hours of being dazzled and shimmered and bathed in phosphorous lights and so completely immersed in a fantastical world, I admonished myself for not having read the best-selling book Life of Pi by Yann Martel, despite it sitting in my bathroom (of all places, for the past year or so). I had dismissed it out of hand, what kind of plot was this? A man in a boat with a tiger, adrift in the middle of the ocean. It was just preposterous, it would never happen, and so I missed the chance to read something, if the film is anything to go by, that is magical and enchanting, wondrous and wonderful. It is the beauty of story-telling that makes it so compelling, I guess the ultimate visual metaphor, that life should be about the journey not the destination.
It is not a suspenseful movie, we know the protagonist survives as we see him retelling his tale to an ever more sceptical listener at the beginning of the film. However the film is not short on drama and tension. At one point it gave me the biggest shout out loud shock moments I have ever experienced in a cinema.
Ang Lee as a director is renown for his films looking very handsome, in Brokeback Mountains, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal had to fight very hard not to be upstaged by the Montana backdrop. He is also known for his films being ground-breaking, those spectacular flying scenes, so original in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon have been copied many times over since. In Life of Pi these two aspects of his film making have come together magnificently, every shot is exquisite with many take your breath away moments. In Life of Pi, the 3D effect is not a cynical money making exercise, it does truly enhance the story-telling and make it even more glorious to watch. This really is one of those films you must see in the cinema for maximum impact.
There is a charm and an innocent to this film I have not experienced in a very long time. The story is told slowly and carefully, and after seeing so many films recently where I have despaired at the rising levels of gratuitous violence , even in supposedly family orientated films, it was very pleasurable to watch and very easy to enjoy, and I would recommend Life of Pi whole-heartedly to everyone for a genuinely original and different, uplifting and life-affirming experience.