Film Review – LIFE OF PI

Venue: Ster-Kinekor, Cine 2, Maerua Mall
Director: Ang Lee
Screenplay: David Magee (script); Yann Martel (novel)
Players: Suraj Sharma; Irrfan Khan; Adil Hussain; Gautam Belur; Rafe Spall; Gerard Depardieu
Genre: drama
Rating: ****

Nominated for distinction in the imminent Oscar awards, Life of Pi is a faithful and imaginative rendition of French-Canadian writer Yann Martel’s novel. The screenplay is strong, given that the entire story is essentially narrated, sometimes through voice-over, by the main character, Piscine Moletor Patel (Sharma), an Indian from Pondicherry. Piscine, who re-designates himself as ‘Pi’ during a senior school Mathematics class while proving that Pi operates into infinity.
The novel is the philosophical exploration by Martel, the novelist, of his own life – as he himself confesses: it is the result of his attempts to find ‘direction and purpose’ in his life.
Pi, his protagonist, is making the same journey – so that his 227-day trip on a raft and a lifeboat is in itself a symbol of the spiritual journey of self-discovery
The film pursues the same structure as the novel: a three-part story of which the middle section is by far the longest and deals with Pi’s traumatic trip with a tiger, Richard Parker. Ang Lee successfully retains the whimsical humour of the novel as Pi explains very simply the unfortunate choices and consequences of his own name and that of the tiger.