Director: Ang Lee
Writers: Yann Martel (novel), David Magee (screenplay)
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
Release Date: November 23, 2012
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.
The plot sounded strange and I dislike animal and animated movies, so having animated animals in a film felt like a double whammy to me. I took a pass. But then Ang Lee won Best Director and I began to question my prejudices.
We begin with Pi as an adult meeting with a novelist to whom he tells his story. He begins with his life story at the age of 12. He grows up with his father the owner of a zoo where Pi learns that not everyone (be it person or animal) is not always as cuddly as them seem. the Patel family are Hindu, but Pi, going through a discovery phase also practices Christianity and Islam. Watching Pi incorporate all three religions into his life was very clever and amusing. In short, he had a full life.
That is until his father decides to sell the zoo, the animals going to various zoos around the country and the Patel family packing up for Canada. Along with the animals, they choose transportation of boat. A storm brews, sinking the ship with the sole survivor being Pi, along with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and Richard Parker, the Bengal Tiger. All in one small lifeboat, until primal instincts kick in. I will cut out the gory details of the animal food chain and simply say that Pi and Richard Parker are the only two left. As Pi looks like a tasty treat to the tiger, he must use survival skills not just to get through this ordeal but also out of reach of his furry friend.
Even though Pi and Richard Parker will never be BFFs I was reminded of Wilson and Tom Hanks in Castaway. being all they have they form a bond that is almost heartbreaking and when the tiger eventually departs the cut was as deep as Wilson floating out to sea.
One of the reasons I dislike animal movies, is because they are so sappy, heartfelt and so cutesy that I want to vomit. Yes, I felt for the tiger/human camaraderie and was sorry to see him go, but I wasn’t crying Old Yeller, it was a good balance.
The animation was great and blended nicely in with the live action. It was not over-done screaming “look what we can do!” but rather subtle and looked seamless.
The conclusion of this tale, just when you think it can’t become anymore unbelievable, Pi makes you question everything he just divulged into what if?