A spiritual journey at sea is the basis of this high-minded film from Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, based on Yann Martel’s prize-winning novel. Thankfully, it’s grounded with a good dose of humour and an endearing performance by newcomer Suraj Sharma. He plays Pi, an Indian boy whose zoo-owning father (Adil Hussain) packs the family and animals onto a ship bound for Canada. After the ship is wrecked during a storm, Pi is left adrift in a lifeboat – his last surviving companion a Bengal tiger that he has feared ever since his dad tried to teach him a lesson about Darwinism.
But apart from seeking safe passage, Pi is also looking for God. There are no easy answers, of course, but there are a few too many platitudes in the script and a bit of misdirection that some will find patronising. The real strength of the film is in its stunning imagery, which evokes the mysteries of the universe and stirs great tension as Pi and a truly lifelike CGI tiger pussyfoot around each other on the way to enlightenment.