There are many films that attempt to open a dialogue about belief in God but few that do it well. The Life of Pi is the rare film that tells both a compelling and thought-provoking story. Based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name director Ang Lee creates a beautiful cinematic journey about a boy named Pi and his fight to survive over 200 days at sea.
The story begins with Pi as an adult (Irrfan Khan) meeting with a writer (Rafe Spall) that is looking for an intriguing story. The writer was told that not only did Pi have an amazing story, but that he could also convince him to believe in God.
We are introduced to young Pi growing up in India. His father owns a Zoo and is very much a realist. He doesn’t approve of Pi’s mischievous adventures or religious endeavors. In pursuit of better opportunities his father boards his family and animals on a Japanese ship headed to Canada. Things go awry pretty quickly when a massive storm sets in destroying everything on the ship and ultimately leaving Pi and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker on a small rescue boat.
The majority of the movie is spent exploring Pi’s relationship with the tiger. Actor Suraj Sharma who plays teenage Pi makes an impressive acting debut. You feel his hunger, his desperation and his grit as they navigate rough waters. It was interesting to learn that the tiger was mostly CGI, making his performance even more impressive. We spend a lot of time with Pi and Richard Parker at sea and at times the pacing is slow, but that only adds to idleness Pi is experiencing.
If this all sounds a little too far-fetched, you’re not alone. That’s a major theme explored toward the end of the film. How does a self-proclaimed “skinny vegetarian” survive at sea sharing a boat with a carnivorous animal? There is much to be learned from PI’s journey and I found the film incredibly moving. It ultimately offers a refreshing look at the need for God in our own lives and it’s told brilliantly through this story. Four Stars.
Favorite Quote: “Doubt is useful. It keeps faith a living thing. After all, you cannot know the strength of your faith until it has been tested.” – Life of Pi