Yann Martel’s 2001 novel Life of Pi, in which an Indian boy survives 227 days stranded on a boat following a shipwreck with a tiger and other animals, was thought to be unfilmable.
But this week Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) brings his vision to bear on the fantastical tale as a cinematic adaptation of the book gets its UK release.
Age rating: PG
Running time: 127 minutes
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain
Critics’ rating: 88% (via Rotten Tomatoes)
Audience rating: 91% (via Rotten Tomatoes)
“I don’t love 3D; the novelty of being part of a bespectacled audience that looks like a Two Ronnies tribute is long past, but Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi has some beautiful images right from the start as exotic creatures scamper around Pondicherry Zoo. It’s a gentle beginning to a film that looks as good as Avatar or Hugo, but ultimately feels more satisfying.
“It’s been trumpeted widely as a film about belief, but you can pick your own points to ponder. At the very least, it makes you think about the alliances and pacts we make with ourselves when we need to survive. It also marks a return to form for Lee, whose last film was the irritatingly woozy Taking Woodstock. He’s always been an austere director of grand emotion – the moment Heath Ledger finds Jake Gyllenhaal’s shirt in a closet in Brokeback Mountain, or the pent-up longing of Emma Thompson in Sense And Sensibility – but Life Of Pi is a new kind of high water mark for him, a beautifully realised journey that goes right off the map.”
• On general release from Friday
Are you going to see Life of Pi?