Based on Yann Martel’s imaginative novel, Life of Pi chronicles the amazing life of Pi Patel a boy whose family owns a zoo in India. When the zoo goes under, Pi’s father uproots his family and takes some of the animals to sell in Canada.
On the voyage to Canada, a terrible storm kicks up and only Pi and three wild animals, a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a tiger named Richard Parker survive on the lifeboat. Soon only the tiger and Pi remain on the vast sea under the intense sun. It’s riveting to see Pi figure out how to evade sharks, keep out of the sun, eat and share space with a tiger – and not some docile, domesticated feline, but a tiger who’ll eat a hyena or most likely a teenage boy if nothing else is around.
Since I’d read the book, I didn’t think this book was filmable. It’s just too unique. I’m happy to say this version worked. How amazing! The film is beautiful with incredible CGI for the bulk of the film and lovely local color shots of India and the zoo at the start.
There were some parts I didn’t think worked. The story if framed with a contrivance that a drifting writer met an acquaintance of Pi’s who told the writer he must hear Pi’s story. I just didn’t buy that this guy would actually bother to track down Pi. I wouldn’t – unless it turned out Pi was a neighbor, I’d never met back home. That character was just bland and a device to get Pi to tell his story.
At the end two Japanese employees of the shipping company meet with Pi to find out what happened. That scene seemed flat as the two actors just didn’t have Japanese body language and the way they behaved was just not believable. No Japanese person I’ve met would express skepticism so directly and they wouldn’t challenge someone in the hospital that way. It just came off as flat.
On the whole the film amazed me and the actor who played Pi was outstanding. It made me want to reread the novel.