In director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, a man named Pi (played as an adult by Irrfan Khan and as a teen by Suraj Sharma) tells the story of how as a teenager he spent 227 days adrift at sea on a lifeboat after the freighter him and his family were in sinks into the ocean. But he wasn’t alone—Pi ended up on the lifeboat alongside another survivor: a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Life of Pi can easily be compared to the film Cast Away with Tom Hanks—a miraculous story of survival against all odds. Like Hanks in that film, Life of Pi relies on the sole actor on the screen to carry the film and draw an audience in to their plight. Newcomer Sharma is remarkable here as the teenage Pi, and it’s because of his strong performance that we full-heartedly experience Pi’s journey along with him—his triumphs and his doubts. What makes Life of Pi so gripping is that it’s essentially a coming-of-age story—a young man’s journey through his life and to figure out what it all means—the meaning of faith, in particular.
Based on the best-selling novel, many who read the novel considered it “unfilmable” when it came to the idea of a film adaptation. But leave it to masterful Oscar-winning director Lee to succeed at the task all the same and deliver a visually inspiring and deeply involving motion picture. Lee uses 3-D here in ways in which the medium is meant to be utilized—not just for show, but to exhibit visuals to bring about emotion and feeling on a deeper level. Pi’s “water world” is absolutely stunning through Lee’s lens. Without question, the film is impressively beautiful and I’m not talking about just the visuals of it all.
But wait just a minute—is all of this even possible? A young man would survive out in the ocean as he did? Not only that, but alongside a tiger? Do we have the faith in us to believe? This is what the film asks of us—and it’s up to you to decide for yourself what to believe in.
Life of Pi is not only a visually extraordinary film, but a remarkably involving and incredibly moving experience. It’s one of the finest films of the year and it’s a film I won’t soon forget.
4 ½ out of 5 stars
About Life of Pi:
A young man survives a disaster at sea and struggles to survive through an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms a surprising connection with another survivor: a formidable Bengal tiger.
For more on Life of Pi, visit the official 20th Century Fox Web site.