Le reazioni della stampa americana a Vita di Pi di Ang Lee

Nel weekend americano è uscito anche Vita di Pi, l’adattamento, da molti ritenuto impossibile, del romanzo di Yann Martel, ad opera di Ang Lee (La tigre e il dragone, Brokeback Mountain).

Il film arriverà in Italia il 20 dicembre prossimo.

Roger Ebert, il decano dei critici americani è particolarmente entusiasta, assegnando al film il massimo, quattro stelle:

Ang Lee‘s “Life of Pi” is a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery. Inspired by a worldwide best-seller that many readers must have assumed was unfilmable, it is a triumph over its difficulties. It is also a moving spiritual achievement, a movie whose title could have been shortened to “life.”

Life of Pi è un’avventura senza tempo: The story involves the 227 days that its teenage hero spends drifting across the Pacific in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. They find themselves in the same boat after an amusing and colorful prologue, which in itself could have been enlarged into an exciting family film. Then it expands into a parable of survival, acceptance and adaptation. I imagine even Yann Martel, the novel’s French-Canadian author, must be delighted to see how the usual kind of Hollywood manhandling has been sidestepped by Lee’s poetic idealism.

Ebert è uno dei più autorevoli critici della nuova mania del 3D, ma qui l’uso che ne fa Ang Lee sembra perfettamente integrato con il suo racconto:

What astonishes me is how much I love the use of 3-D in “Life of Pi.” I’ve never seen the medium better employed, not even in “Avatar,” and although I continue to have doubts about it in general, Lee never uses it for surprises or sensations, but only to deepen the film’s sense of places and events.

Let me try to describe one point of view. The camera is placed in the sea, looking up at the lifeboat and beyond it. The surface of the sea is like the enchanted membrane upon which it floats. There is nothing in particular to define it; it is just … there. This is not a shot of a boat floating in the ocean. It is a shot of ocean, boat and sky as one glorious place.

Per Ebert si tratta di uno dei migliori film dell’anno:

The writer W.G. Sebold once wrote, “Men and animals regard each other across a gulf of mutual incomprehension.” This is the case here, but during the course of 227 days, they come to a form of recognition. The tiger, in particular, becomes aware that he sees the boy not merely as victim or prey, or even as master, but as another being.

The movie quietly combines various religious traditions to enfold its story in the wonder of life. How remarkable that these two mammals, and the fish beneath them and birds above them, are all here. And when they come to a floating island populated by countless meerkats, what an incredible sequence Lee creates there.

The island raises another question: Is it real? Is this whole story real? I refuse to ask that question. “Life of Pi” is all real, second by second and minute by minute, and what it finally amounts to is left for every viewer to decide. I have decided it is one of the best films of the year.

Assai meno entusiasta è Tony Scott del New York Times, che critica la religiosità confusa del film:

“If you believe in everything, you will end up not believing in anything at all,” warns Pi’s dad, who is committed to the supremacy of reason and who is, as rationalists often are in the imaginations of the devout, a bit of a grouch about it. But this piece of skeptical paternal wisdom identifies a serious flaw in “Life of Pi,” which embraces religion without quite taking it seriously, and is simultaneously about everything and very little indeed. Instead of awe, it gives us “awww, how sweet.”

Da sole, le immagini di straordinaria bellezza naturale non bastano a dare coerenza ad un film che sceglie la carta della meraviglia rispetto a quella della coerenza:

There are images in “Life of Pi” that are so beautiful, so surprising, so right that I hesitate to describe them. Suffice it to say that the simple, elemental facts of sky, sea and animal life are captured with sweetness and sublimity.

The problem, as I have suggested, is that the narrative frame that surrounds these lovely pictures complicates and undermines them. The novelist and the older Pi are eager to impose interpretations on the tale of the boy and the beast, but also committed to keeping those interpretations as vague and general as possible. And also, more disturbingly, to repress the darker implications of the story, as if the presence of cruelty and senseless death might be too much for anyone to handle.

Perhaps they are, but insisting on the benevolence of the universe in the way that “Life of Pi” does can feel more like a result of delusion or deceit than of earnest devotion. The movie invites you to believe in all kinds of marvelous things, but it also may cause you to doubt what you see with your own eyes — or even to wonder if, in the end, you have seen anything at all.

Il giudizio di Todd McCarthy su The Hollywood Reporter è positivo, segnalando il fascino trasversale della visione panteistica di Lee, buono un po’ per i pubblici di tutto il mondo:

Technology employed by sensitive hands brings to vivid life a work that would have been inconceivable onscreen until very recently in Life of Pi. Ang Lee, that great chameleon among contemporary directors, achieves an admirable sense of wonder in this tall tale about a shipwrecked teenager stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a yarn that has been adapted from the compellingly peculiar best-seller with its beguiling preposterousness intact. Like the venerable all-purpose entertainments of Hollywood’s classical era, this exceptionally beautiful 3D production should prove accessible to and embraceable by all manner of audiences, signaling substantial commercial possibilities domestically and probably even moreso internationally.

Degni di nota anche i contributi tecnici, che hanno aiutato Lee a ricreare un universo plausibile per la sua storia fantastica:

Creating a plausible, ever-changing physical world was the first and over-arching technical challenge met by the effects team. The extra step here was rendering a tiger that would be believable in every way, from its violent movements and threatening stares to its desperate moments when, soaked through and starving, it attempts to claw its way back on board the small boat. With one passing exception — a long shot of the tiger making its way through a sea of meerkats that’s a bit off — the representation of Richard Parker is extraordinarily lifelike.

The leap of faith required for Lee to believe this could be put up onscreen in a credible way was necessarily considerable. His fingerprints are at once invisible and yet all over the film in the tact, intelligence, curiosity and confidence that characterizes the undertaking. At all times, the film, shot by Claudio Miranda and with production design by David Gropman, is ravishing to look at, and the 3D work is discreetly powerful. Mychael Danna composed the emotionally fluent score.

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