Yann Martel’s book – about a boy trapped on a small boat with a large tiger – is yet another novel that has been dubbed ‘unfilmable.’ And, as mentioned in these pages before, that means someone will have a try at bringing it to the big screen. Ang Lee – whose career has run the gamut from fare such as the Oscar winning drama “Brokeback Mountain” to blockbusters such as “The Hulk” – has combined his art house sensibility with some Hollywood technical wizardry to create an astounding visual feast with a strong emotional core.
The film sees Pi Patel recount a story of his younger self (played by Suraj Sharma in a remarkable performance from an unknown). Growing up with a zoo-owning family, Pi’s life is turned upside down when – moving the zoo from one country to another – the ship he and his family are on sinks. Pi is the only human survivor and finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, zebra and the ferocious tiger Richard Parker. Pi now finds himself trying to stay alive whilst sharing a small space with some of the most dangerous creatures in the world. How will Pi survive? And just what will his older-self reveal about this fantastical journey?
This is a technically marvelous film – especially if you see it in 3D – in which the all the creatures are rendered with believability and you’ll be convinced that a human can co-exist with a tiger on a small boat. But, beyond the technical excellence, this is a strong story of the power of the human spirit and the thin line between fantasy and reality.
Already riding high in many awards ballots, this is an epic yet intimate film that is a paean to the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.