Ang Lee is a great director. I have watched almost all of the movies that he has made and I can say that I have enjoyed them, yes even his Hulk movie. However, Life of Pi irritated me. And I’m crushed saying this because I so dearly wanted to enjoy this movie but from the beginning the story started off on the wrong foot for me.
We first meet Pi as an adult he is being interviewed by a writer regarding his surviving a ship wreck and found alive after being giving up for dead. As he is interviewed he reveals some of his life in India how he learned to worship God. And at that point I started to get angry. Why you ask, well it is simple Pi starts out as a Hindu learning about the different pantheon of the gods of India. They are his “superheroes” until one day he is challenged to go drink the holy water in a church, a Roman Catholic Church. There he learns about Jesus and goes back over and over again to learn more. He then prays to Vishnu to thank him for letting him learn of Jesus. From there he learns about Islam and studies that in fact all of these religions are melded into his view of “God” including his father’s atheism and adherence to “reason”. He even mentions incorporating the Cabala into his belief system. When the writer points out the conflicts in the various beliefs Pi shrugs it off it doesn’t really matter this is the cafeteria God it doesn’t have any absolute form or reality let alone truth.
And that is the whole point to this movie: there is no truth. For as Pi unfolds his story of the shipwreck and his survival aboard a lifeboat whose other occupant is a Bengal tiger. Pi and the tiger must learn to rely upon each other if they are both are going to survive. And through a series of intensely beautiful scenes the tiger and the boy learns to live together. Or do they? Because after Pi is found on the shore of Mexico in the hospital he is interviewed by the Japanese insurance investigators. He tells them the story of himself and the tiger. They refuse to go to their bosses with this story so Pi tells a totally different story that is rational and realistic and has no tigers in it only himself, a sailor, a cook, and his mother.
When the writer hears the second story he looks at Pi and says which was true? Pi replies that he has heard both stories whichever one the writer wants to believe the most should be the true one.
The movie ends with the writer recording the first story about a boy and a tiger. So here is the meaning of the life of Pi truth, whether it is about who God is or what actually happened in a lifeboat is up to the individual objective truth doesn’t exist.
I’m giving Life of Pi two tiger tails out of five.