By Midge Reller
Oscar-winning director Ang Lee brought Yann Martel’s 2001 novel Life of Pi to theatres Nov. 21. The film stars Suraj Sharma as young Pi Patel and Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, The Amazing Spiderman, The Darjeeling Limited) as adult Pi.
Life of Pi is a story told by adult Pi to a writer through a series of flashbacks. At age 16, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel was the only survivor of a shipwreck. Inspired by this, a writer goes to Pi for an interview several years later to document Pi’s life story. The writer is told that Pi will tell him a story that will make him believe in God.
The Catholic-Hindu-Muslim explains to the writer his life growing up in India with his family-owned zoo. As a young boy, Pi’s curiosity leads him to the cage of the Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker, whom he attempts to feed. His father, who is outraged, tells Pi that this carnivorous animal is not to be trusted.
Several years later, Pi’s family boards a Japanese ship. A violent storm sinks the ship, leaving all passengers dead except Pi. After the shipwreck, the protagonist finds himself alone on a lifeboat with Richard Parker, the zoo’s Bengal tiger.
Life of Pi is a story of survival and of spirituality. It touches on the idea of faith, and its up-for-interpretation ending raises a lot of questions about the meaning of the film. The film is not only visually stunning but its philosophical nature leaves audience members pondering the symbolism even days after seeing the movie.
Most would agree that being alone on a raft with a tiger for the majority of the film sounds like a daunting task to portray. However, Sharma pulls off the challenge magnificently. Sharma brings the gangly, lovable Pi to life and keeps audiences captivated the whole time.
Overall this film is brilliantly crafted. The story has profound depth and soul, the scenes are thrilling, the acting is convincing, it has beautiful imagery and there are lots of splashes of witty humor. Life of Pi is definitely a movie worth seeing.