The Life of Pi is like a beautiful dessert with lots of whipped cream on top and a beautifully sweet center you unexpectedly discover. In the hands of director Ang Lee, the "couldn't be filmed" novel by Yann Martel becomes an awesome adventure. The film is filled with beautiful scenes glorifying the impact of the seas, and is expertly acted by Suraj Sharma as the "everyman" Pi.
From the onset of the film, Pi the adult (Irrfan Khan) is telling his story to a writer (Rafe Spall). This tells the audience that Pi survived his adventure at sea. Because of this, as Pi tells the story of his teenage years, you can relax and absorb the different inflections in the story. And his story is an exciting one.
On a journey with his parents and brother to Canada, where his father was selling some zoo animals, a storm arose and capsized the freighter in which they and the animals were traveling. Pi ended up in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. Within a short while it was only him and the tiger. The tiger was called Richard Parker by his family and that is what Pi continues to call him in their shared adventure.
On the surface this is a story about a boy and a tiger and how they managed to share the lifeboat. Lee tells this story magnificently as he presents stunning scenes of the sky and the sea. The fact it is all shown in 3-D adds an impact to the beauty which it otherwise would not have had.
Lee also manages to keep the story interesting though Pi is the only one talking. We hear his internal thoughts as well as his conversations with Richard Parker. Sharma does all this without ever breaking character. He becomes Pi and gives him his heart, soul and physicality. It is an amazing performance by a young man who had never acted before and is said not to be interested in acting again. Nevertheless he will be immortalized by the scope and depth of this performance.
The film is rated PG for violence.
Those who see this film will be thrilled with its beauty and also mystified by its message. The twists and turns that appear in the last fourth of the film will be the cause of endless conversations concerning what really happened and why. Any film that can entertain you and challenge you at the same time is above average in every way.
I scored Life of Pi a mathematical 8 out of 10.