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Movie Reviews

Life Of Pi




Released: 2012

Directed By: Ang Lee

Starring: Iffran Khan, Suraj Sharma

Certificate: PG

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

three dimensional big budget adaptation involving bengal tigers and a sprinkling of spirituality. At first glance of its plot synopsis, its perhaps no surprise to see why the critically acclaimed and Booker Prize winning work of Yann Martel has left many spellbound, but collectively unanimous in their reluctance to navigate through the potentially choppy waters of a cinematic interpretation. Clearly, Mr Ang Lee didn’t receive the memo. Admittedly, his previous delve into such visual trickery proved underwhelming (Hulk) but his eye for storytelling is well trained. Dare the Brokeback Mountain director pull off the feat implied as ‘unfilmable’?

‘Life Of Pi’ begins with a cosy meeting of the minds. Rafe Spall’s accomplished writer buys into Pi’s (Iffran Khan playing the adult version) promise that the story he will indulge in will ‘make him believe in God’. Eager to get a project underway chronicling the colourful adventures of his life, we’re immediately transported back to his youth. Played during this phase by Suraj Sharma, we discover he was a zookeeper’s son dabbling in various faiths and gifted with a nickname from the mathematics ‘handbook’.

Faced with the daunting trip of being uprooted from the confines of India and emigrating to Canada with his beloved family, tragedy strikes. Their sea based vessel is ravaged by a hazardous storm, leaving Pi stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with fellow members of the animal kingdom. The lucky few include an orangutan, a zebra, a crazed hyena.. and a delightful tiger named Richard Parker? Interpreting the events as an extraordinary form of ‘character building’ and self-discovery, our protagonist is faced with an uphill struggle to survive on limited supplies.

Cinema saturated in CGI are regularly met with groans but in this case, it is what propels ‘Life Of Pi’ to be a transcendental slice of filmmaking. Whether it’s the gripping shipwreck or capturing the beauty of creatures in their natural habitat, the visuals are undeniably gorgeous without overcompensating for the narrative. Director Ang Lee thankfully stays faithful and acknowledges the book’s philosophical/religious undertones, with the execution of such an aspect never laid on too thick and steers the film away from pretentiousness.

With Iffran Khan’s performance whilst engaging predominantly restricted to being a reliable narrator, the film rest’s on the novice shoulders of one Suraj Sharma. Making a mockery of such a tag, Sharma’s performance radiates charisma and convincing physicality in spades with the progression of the film mirroring his ever growing maturity. His blossoming relationship with ‘Richard Parker’ shifts from playful to beautiful with ease, which may just trigger cinemagoers to have a sudden craving for a Bengal Tiger.

Boiling down to a stunning coming of age story of a naive boy embracing life flaws and all as he transitions into a man with his principles affirmed by outlandish experiences, ‘Life Of Pi’ is nothing short of captivating.

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