Written by: David Magee (screenplay), Yann Martel (novel)
Directed by: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain
Sassi’s Star Rating: 3.5/5
Life of Pi is the film adaptation of the Booker prize-winning novel by Canadian author Yann Martel. We meet Pi Patel at the beginning of the film, and we learn that he may have “a story that (will) make (us) believe in God.” Stunningly beautiful visual effects then bring that story to life.
The young Pi is curious, and it is through his innocence and wonder that we venture on a journey of spiritual discovery. The stage is set as we watch Pi grapple with his father’s belief in science and rational thought, and his mother’s belief in the Hindu God. He finds all religious teachings fascinating; by the time he is an adult, he tells us that he “came to God through Hinduism” but “found His love through Christ,” and that Islam gave him the feeling of “serenity and brotherhood.”
Newcomer Suraj Sharma plays the young adult Pi Patel, and shares much of his screen time with a magnificent Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker. The two find themselves stranded on a life raft after a disaster at sea, and the adventure they embark on, and ultimately the connection they form, allows the film to explore faith and the meaning of life.
Sharma, who had no acting experience prior to his audition for director Ang Lee, does a brilliant job of holding our interest, delivering an emotionally charged performance over what is essentially only one actor on the screen for an extended period of time. The difference here is that unlike Tom Hanks in Cast Away, vivid 3D effects enhance Sharma’s performance, and his interaction is with a tiger rather than a basketball!
Under Lee’s direction the cinematography is out of this world, and a very complex story adaptation is broken down into manageable parts. His genius is obvious. He delivers a film that seeks to show the common ground between all religions, but does so with great visual appeal; which allows it to cater to those less interested in the film’s hidden meanings. Animal lovers are also well catered for; there really are some breathtaking moments.
Life of Pi is thought provoking and inspiring: speaking about hope, perseverance, and when to let go. At the end of the story it is noted that God gave everything to Pi that he needed along the way, and other observations are also made. However, at no time is religion forced upon the audience. The story simply presents ideas, allowing us to draw our own conclusions.
A visually beautiful film, which asks important questions about faith and humanity.
Life of Pi, in cinemas now!
Category: Film & TV