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Tiger taming on the high seas

OUT NOW! Ang Lee films the unfilmable in LIFE OF PI.

Long considered unfilmable, Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2002 Booker Prize winning story of a 16-year-old boy who survives 227 days at sea in a lifeboat shared with one Richard Parker, aka the tiger, makes full use of contemporary technology.

PETA would have something to say about the use of endangered species adrift on the open seas but will surely rejoice with the rest of us at the majesty of an animal created using CGI and rendered in awe-inspiring 3D under the practiced eye of visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer.

The script provides for both bathos and pathos, the production design perfectly offsets the soul-breaking immensities of ocean and sky against the essential human need for some form of intimacy with other living beings and Lee’s direction bears its customary emotional charge. But it’s the performance of newcomer Suraj Sharma that carries this movie and the faith-based message on which it rests.

It’s a truism, of course, that narratives are deceptive, but Sharma’s portrayal of tenacious innocence is what remains when the lights come up, turning the limitations of credulity into a personal survival manual that’s significantly more liberating than any found in the locker of a lifeboat.

Life of Pi | Directed by Ang Lee (USA 2012) with Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan. Starts December 27