Suraj Sharma in a scene from the movie Life of Pi.
Suraj Sharma in a scene from the movie Life of Pi. Peter Sorel - Picselect

Movie review: Life of Pi

LIFE of Pi is one of those movies that stays with you.

Or at least it did for me.

The questions about life and faith that it raises require digestion and chances are you will be mulling over them for days after seeing the film.

Director Ang Lee, best known for Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, has done an extraordinary job bringing author Yann Martel's bestselling fantasy novel to life.

It was a story many thought couldn't be done justice on the big screen, but Lee has done just that.

The film followed Pi Patel who, as a young man, boards a Japanese container ship with his parents and older brother.

After enjoying an exotic upbringing in Pondicherry, India, Patel's parents have decided to sell their zoo and use the money to start a new life in Canada.

But after the ship sinks in a storm somewhere in the Pacific near the Philippines, Patel finds himself as the only survivor sharing a lifeboat with a few of the zoo animals including an adult Bengal tiger.

The film is framed through the eyes of middle-aged Pi, played by Irrfan Khan, who is recounting his life and his incredible story of survival to a writer.

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Khan is excellent both as an actor and part narrator, but the spotlight is owned, and rightly so, by the film's young star Suraj Sharma.

Plucked from obscurity, Sharma masters the breadth of the role, in which he must portray everything from innocence to grief to desperation and starvation.

It's safe to say Life of Pi will shoot Sharma to international fame and acclaim in the same way Slumdog Millionaire did for Dev Patel.

Those who haven't read the book have a choice to make.

They can either read the book before seeing the movie so they have a rough idea of the plot, including the big "twist", or go into the cinema with no expectations.

I have read the book, albeit eight years ago, but I think the film can be enjoyed and appreciated either way.

Martel's incredible story is matched by stunning visuals.

Cinematographer Claudio Miranda and the set design team deserve applause for their inventive staging of Pi's many days at sea.

They portray the many moods of the Pacific Ocean, from howling gales to glassy seas and nights illuminated by blue bioluminescence.

The animals in the film, particularly the tiger, are beautifully animated to lifelike accuracy.

The diversity of India is also celebrated in this film, mostly through Pi's childhood memories which make up the first third of the film.

Life of Pi is the perfect sounding board for separating those who see the glass as half empty from those who see it as half full.

Life of Pi opens on New Year's Day.


Life of Pi

  • Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan, Gérard Depardieu, Ayush Tandon.
  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Rating: PG
  • Stars: 4.5/5

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