Life of Pi is based on the 2001 book of the same name, by Yann Martel, which I haven’t read but would now like to. In the movie version, I originally thought Pi was trapped at sea for two or three months; however, it ends up being 227 days – roughly seven and a half months! – and the director, Ang Lee, showcases this time in the movie beautifully, even though the situation is dire.
Piscine Molitor Patel (Suraj Sharma, a first-time actor) received his name from a favorite swimming pool, the Piscine Molitor in France. Children are not kind to Piscine, however, given that his name sounds like another word, so during elementary school he decides to reinvent himself one year and go by the name of “Pi” instead; it helps that he’s super smart at math, too, and can write down a large amount of the numbers in Pi (3.14). One day, however, his mother (Tabu) and father (Adil Hussain) announce that they are moving from India to Canada, and will be selling the animals in their zoo as well. Pi, his brother, and his parents board a Japanese freight liner bound for Canada, but during a storm the liner sinks; the only one who is able to get into the lifeboat in time is Pi, though he soon finds that some of the animals from the zoo are also on board.
I didn’t know this film was in 3D before seeing it at a screening, and was wondering how the 3D would do it justice; the answer being that you must see it in 3D. Ang Lee has created an intense and almost glowing world that at time seems like a dream itself, and the 3D in the movie is the best use of 3D I have seen in quite a while. This movie is also not for the faint of heart, as the tiger can be a bit scary, especially in 3D; the movie also is a cross between Titanic and Cast Away or another “survival” movie, in that in the first part the ship sinks and in the second, Pi must survive for quite a while both against the sea and also must feed Richard Parker, the tiger, so that he doesn’t get hungry and eat him. Suraj Sharma is fantastic in the role of Pi, by the way, and I was shocked to hear that this was his first movie; Life of Pi is a one-man (and one-tiger) show for about 75% of the film, and Sharma meets the challenge admirably.
Yes, see this movie. I would have given it a perfect 5 out of 5 stars, except for that the movie never explains how Pi does eventually end up in Canada – we know he survives the shipwreck, because the film is being told and narrated by an adult Pi, who lives in Canada, but we never find out what he does now or anything about his future, except for his current location and that he’s married with two kids. It’s possible the book doesn’t divulge any of these details as well, though. I thought that narrating the movie this way was a smart choice, as well, because after Pi’s time at sea starts, the adult Pi isn’t seen until the end of the movie; i.e., he doesn’t get in the way of the story being told. Life of Pi is a fantastic movie both in the literal and the figurative senses, and it’s one worth seeing during this holiday season.
Life of Pi is currently playing in theaters and is rated PG with a runtime of 125 minutes.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.