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Life of Pi

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Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is the Canadian immigrant from India whose eventful life the film explores. The film begins with an older Pi, played in a fine performance by Irfan Khan, who narrates his remarkable tale in an interview with a writer looking for inspiration. He begins with what it was like to grow up in Pondicherry, India, with a family that ran a zoo (complete with the amusing tale of how he was named after a French swimming pool) and the touching story of him following Hinduism, Catholicism, and Islam at the age of 12. Heartening here is Ang Lee’s sweet and simple observation of India, without spicing it up with an exploitation of the country’s ills (I am looking at you Slumdog Millionaire). The characters of the nation are shown to be folk living out their lives with normalcy, rather than thieving, begging, hyper-emotional people who break dance their way through existence. At this point the film’s other main character, Richard Parker, is introduced who happens to be a brutal Bengal tiger, with whom Pi develops a foolishly romantic fascination. Pi’s father (Adil Hussain) has to be a bit brutal himself to display Richard Parker’s vicious predatory nature to his son, so that Pi isn’t maimed in his effort to change the tiger’s stripes. Sixteen-year-old Pi’s tale goes wild when his family decides to move to Canada, travelling with all their zoo animals on a cargo ship. After a terrible storm, shown through absolutely stunning visuals, Pi (Suraj Sharma) is left stranded, floating for 227 days on a lifeboat, alongside Richard Parker. In the vast Pacific Ocean, Pi battles thirst, hunger, faithlessness, scary sea creatures, as well as a rather grumpy animal companion. This haunting vastness of the ocean is enhanced by the amazing 3D work in the film, which creates an extraordinary depth of field. Often the lifeboat is shown as a speckle in the surrounding water, lending an air of believable hopelessness to the situation of the survivors, while at the same...