The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Life of Pi | Suraj Sharma, Adil Hussain, Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Gerard Depardieu | Review

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5_Chicks_SmallJacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Life of Pi | Suraj Sharma, Adil Hussain, Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Gerard Depardieu | Review

Piscine Molitor Patel (Suraj Sharma), tired of having his name associated with piss jokes shortens it to the famous circumference formula.  He even memorizes the classic 3.14 to more than a hundred digits, branding his new name upon teachers and schoolmates once and for all.  A student of Hindu, Christian, and Islam, Pi seeks a spiritual meaning in all things.

He lives in Pondicherry, India, in his father’s zoo with his parents (Adil Hussain and Tabu) and brother (Vibish Sivakumar).  He plays drums for a dance class and falls for a girl (Shravanthi Sainath) at the precise moment his family decides to move to Canada - along with the zoo animals – crossing the ocean on a giant freighter like a modern day Noah’s Ark.  Blink, and you'll miss Gerard Depardieu as an ill-mannered, racist cook on board the ship.

Told in flashback, a mature Pi (Irrfan Khan) tells a writer (Rafe Spall) of his castaway adventures after a storm demolishes the ship.  Afloat in a lifeboat, with a zebra, spotted hyena, orangutan, and 450 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, Pi spends 227 days at sea.  The same cannot be said for most of the animals.  Think food chain.

Most of the film follows Pi’s survival efforts on and around the lifeboat that he’s forced to share with the striped, fanged Richard Parker.  A carnivorous island of meerkats offers Pi and Richard Parker a respite from the vast ocean and their uneasy relationship changes forever.

Because we are introduced to the adult Pi first, we know he survives his incredible adventure and the journey is far more rewarding than the destination, where all that awaits him is an official Japanese inquiry about the freighter’s destruction and his own unbelievable ordeal.  Will they believe him?  Does the writer?  Do we?

Suraj Sharma’s resourceful castaway is even more compelling than his tiger boat mate, making viewer empathy both urgent and easy.  Irrfan Khan holds Pi’s mystery together with wise eyes and serene face.  Richard Parker, the CGI big cat, has a desperate scene that will sear his searching face into your own memory.

Life of Pi is based on the fantasy adventure novel by Canadian author Yann Martel published in 2001.

In director Ang Lee’s (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) hands, it’s a reverential film that doesn’t shy away from harsh reality.  It’s just that the reality is so very beautiful.  Even isolation and desperation take on magical hues and danger is an aesthetic, natural occurrence.  Land and seascapes exude an ethereal glow; as their luminous phosphorescence mixes with spirituality, fantasy, and luscious, other-worldly visuals.

No message in a bottle needed here.

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