If a college football player can fall in love with an online, nonexistent person, then I have no shame for falling head over heels for a computer-animated Bengal tiger. I’m looking at you, Richard Parker, the battered companion of Pi, in director Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.”
Told in flashbacks by the adult Pi to a writer who has heard some of his story from Pi’s “uncle,” Pi reflects on how he came to be. We learn that his family maintained a zoo in India and in an effort to give his children a better life, Pi’s father decided to pack up the family and the animals and ship out to Canada. While on the boat, a horrific storm hit, and Pi was separated from the rest of his family, finding refuge on a life boat. Although several animals survived initially, early on in his journey Pi’s only companion became Richard Parker. For 227 days Pi had to figure out how to overcome starvation and the elements, but outwit a hungry Richard Parker, too.
To say the special effects are spectacular is an understatement and I saw this movie without 3D. It’s really not necessary. The storm…the animals…they all seem very real. The Bengal tiger, in particular, is amazing. How can he not be real?
The cast is really very good and all of the actors portraying Pi at various stages in his life are excellent. The two with the most screen time, the adult Pi, Irrfan Khan, and especially the shipwrecked Pi, Suraj Sharma, are terrific. Khan does a fantastic job in conveying the joy and pain of his life. Sharma commands the screen as he does his best to save himself and Richard Parker. You can literally see his mind working overtime.
What’s real? What’s imagined? What is faith? I’m not sure…I don’t have any answers. I do know I was entertained and the two hours flew by. “Life of Pi” is well worth seeing. But remember…Richard Parker is mine.