Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook, movie review

     A bit under the weather recently, I watched two movies at home. Both were strikingly different movies save that both had a character with the last name of "Patel" in them. Both were also out in the theaters in 2012 and had been adapted from novels. I had not read either book. The movies were The Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook.

     A writer looks up Pi who is residing in Montreal with his wife and child. Pi relates his story of the shipwreck:    

     The young Hindu boy in The Life of Pi shortened his first name from the French word Piscine [pool] to simply Pi. Schoolmates had callously teased him by pronouncing his first name as Pissing. Pi Patel had an older brother and parents. Pi was curious about religion. As a younger, he wanted to practice Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. His dad pointed out the folly of this. Pi's reply was that he wanted to be baptized.

     The family decided to migrate to the United States from India. They booked passage on a freighter for themselves and some of their zoo animals. A storm came. The ship went down. All of the humans died except for Pi who was unceremoniously dumped onto a lifeboat by some of the crew [before they died].

     Pi was not alone on the boat as it turned out. Several of the animals were also using it as their floating home, including the Bengal tiger. Pi made a floating dock and survived, finally washing up on the coast of Mexico. The Bengal tiger immediately headed for the jungle. Pi started a new life after some recovery time in a Mexican hospital and an interview with two Japanese men from the company that owned the downed freighter. 

sapphoq reviews says: Unlike other reviewers, I did not share the 'joy' inherent in Pi's argument related to the existence of a god. I found the part of the movie where Pi was sharing his ideas on the divine to the writer as clumsy. I think the movie would have flowed better without the intrusion of the visiting writer. The ocean scenes, the dream sequences, and the tiger were all quite striking. I would have thrown out the writer. I would have kept Pi as a young child curious about the different religions as well as Pi crying out to a god on the lifeboat. Then I would have had Pi getting married at a recognizable site in Montreal like St. Joe's Cathedral or St. George's Episcopal Church. Then he and his wife and child could have faded out walking through the big park overlooking Montreal at the end. I might have thrown in a few shots of the St. Lawrence flowing into the Pacific Ocean and down to Mexico superimposed over a blue Canadian sky.

     Silver Linings Playbook was an utterly different movie. It was set in Philly. Pat had undiagnosed Bipolar I. He came home one day from his teaching job at a school where his wife at the time Nikki also worked to find an unexpected guest in the shower with her. So in a rage, he offed the guest [also a teacher and a co-worker]. To pay for his crime, Pat was hustled off to an institution for eight months.

     He was released to his parents back in Philly. By then, his wife Nikki had moved away and Pat was ordered to stay away from both her and the school. But he was still obsessed with Nikki. He possessed limited insight into his actions.

     The character in this movie with the last name of Patel was Pat's shrink Doctor Patel. With grave difficulty, he kept Pat somewhat anchored into reality. Finally, Pat decided to take his meds. He started to level off with frequent glitches and lapses into manic or depressive modes.

     Pat met a beautiful but mixed-up woman named Tiffany. His dad, the neighborhood bookie having troubles, beat on Pat a bit. The cops showed up periodically and Pat frantically talked them out of shipping him back to the unnamed institution. He and Tiffany train for a dance contest. Tiffany was annoyed that Pat was still stuck on Nikki. At the end, Pat's dad got out of hock by the winnings from the dance contest and he told Pat not to let Tiffany get away.

sapphoq reviews says: The idea that beating someone to death in a manic rage would yield only eight months of punishment and forced therapy in a mental institution was a bit unbelievable. But then, so was Pat's being able to talk himself out of getting 2P'ed back into the institution. The nature of obsession was brilliantly portrayed. The most realistic scene was Pat's dad beating on him. Tiffany was quite an interesting character and I thought the acting of her part was top notch. The shrink was a typical shrink. Pat's mother was an Edith Bunker type without the frou-frou and thick accent. And I liked his dad being a bookie. I'm fond of Philly and so I enjoyed the setting. The movie moved a bit slowly for my tastes but I'm glad he wound up with Tiffany in the end.  

p.s. Both movies had some striking weaknesses in them. I liked Silver Linings Playbook better than The Life of Pi. I am glad that I did not pay cinema prices to see either movie. I suspect that many people will enjoy both movies better than I did. 

If you want info about the actors and stuff like that, here are the wiki entries for the two movies:



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