At first glance, Ang Lee’s latest – about a gentle Indian teen shipwrecked with a tiger – seems like a distinctly modern mélange of bleeding-edge digital technology (its churning ocean storms make Titanic look like a bargain-basement Godzilla sequel) and Oprah-approved spiritual uplift.
But after a closer look, the takeaway is old-school craft: lengthy suspense sequences vibrate with visual tension between animal and man, – in a claustrophobic atmosphere worthy of Jaws.
The whole thing feels intentionally abstract, the placid waves and deep stares hitting a metaphysical nail too squarely on the head. But if you go with it, the riches are undeniable. The movie is nothing like any of Lee’s earlier efforts (The Ice Storm, Brokeback Mountain), but as far as a step toward the tricked-out mainstream goes, it’s smart.