Joe DiPietro on ‘Life of Pi’ by David Magee

Eye on the Oscars: Wrtiers' Roundup

Having never read the book by Yann Martel, I came into the screening as a “Life of Pi” virgin. But I assumed from the title and the trailer that the story involved both math and lifeboats, two things which I have no interest in whatsoever. How thrilled I was to discover that the math is minimal and the lifeboat is the setting for a breathtaking adventure. Ang Lee’s stunning visuals deserve heaps of praise, but let’s also give full credit to David Magee’s succinct and terrific screenplay. In a story that centers on a boy and a tiger adrift at sea, the dialogue is minimal but Magee makes every word count. The movie is also structured beautifully. Although we know from the onset that at least one of the protagonists will survive, the suspense keeps building, the characters keep developing, and the plot keeps twisting and turning in surprising ways. Perhaps most happily (for this writer anyway) the film ultimately becomes about the stories we tell and why we tell them — a potentially heavy-handed theme that Magee’s screenplay brings thrillingly to life.

Joe DiPietro, a double Tony winner for “Memphis,” wrote the book for the current Broadway musical “Nice Work if You Can