FILM: An Imaginative Tale of the Complexities of Faith and the Beauty of Adventure in “Life of Pi”

With magical undertones and a splendid heart reminiscent of Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” or Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away,” Ang Lee’sLife of Pi” takes you on a metaphysical voyage.

The film, adapted from the surrealist novel by Yann Martel, begins with Pi Patel as an adult, who tells the story of his youth to a writer. The writer comes to Pi because he’s heard that his tale will “make him believe in God.”

As an adolescent in India, Pi — portrayed by Suraj Sharma — coins himself Pi, after the irrational number in mathematics that mystically continues infinitely without repeating. Even in childhood, Pi is a little boy full of intrigue, progressiveness and audacity. Pi finds himself fascinated by the life of Christ, despite his Hindu upbringings, and consequently begins to live his life under a religious creed; rather, a spiritual hybridism of his own. From the beginning, Pi sets himself out to find the philosophical meaning of all and connect with the souls of both humans and animals.

When Pi suffers the loss of his entire family and band of zoo animals in a shipwreck on his way to Canada, he begins to dive into a land of dire fantasy and magnificent tribulation. Pi struggles everyday for survival against himself, Richard Parker — his Bengal tiger companion — and the forces of nature or God that seem to test him to the breaches of his existence, sanity, and livelihood. Pi learns to embrace the radiant lights of the universe, understand the obscure hierarchy of the animal kingdom and experience true testaments of faith in the deep seas below full of strange creatures and mesmerizing colors. Richard Parker becomes Pi’s only cohort, a reflection of himself, and a reflection of all he has lost and has yet to learn from such loss.

In one of the most powerful scenes of the film, Pi finds himself washed up on the shore of an unchartered carnivorous island full of millions of mischievous meerkats. The island seems to engulf all that is living into a blue glowing aura come nightfall. In scenes like this, the cinematography is unrivaled, making you feel as if you’re exploring the depths of some super-hyper-visual dimension of reality. It’s one of the many magnificent scenes that make “Life of Pi” an imaginative tale of the complexities of faith, the ambiguities of meaning, and the beauty of adventure.

Though, in the end, the film has you questioning the very nature of reality; subtly proving that reality is relative. For just as in religion, every story may be told through different perspectives, using different characters. The only true reality, however, is that we’re all human and free to believe.

Overall Grade: A-


“Life of Pi” is now playing in theaters everywhere, click here for theaters and showtimes