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Make up your mind

I’d just finished reading a book called Joy about a Christian woman who even though she was raped and impregnated by her rapist still believed in God. She had questions, she had anger, fear and doubts as to whether her path was just, but she clung to her faith like her life depended on it.

It was after reading this book that I ventured to the theatre to see Life of Pi. I was intrigued by the ravings of one of my four good friends on Facebook that we should make the movie a girls’ night out, and then by the posting of my best friend who tossed out the question about whether the movie was evidence of God. So I went into the theatre, alone, a fact that even the usher commented on, letting me know this was the type of movie you brought a friend or significant other along to see. I laughed as I told him, I am used to going to the movies alone. I’ve yet to find myself bored in an entertaining flick simply because I came to see it by myself – but I digress.

Life of Pi is the story of an Indian man and a Bengal tiger, who are cast adrift as the lone survivors on a raft after a shipwreck. The telling of the tale is something reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love, with Pi [Irrfan Khan] recounting the episode for a writer in his home years after the experience. Similar to Eat, Pray, Love, it takes you on a journey of fantastic places and just like Avatar the cinematography in the film is breathtaking. The colours are vibrant, the camera angles awe-inspiring and the telling of the story captivating to say the least.

This film does not give you gun-toting bad guys and flamboyant heroes. What it gives is so much more juicy than that – it gives you fantasy, it leaves you with questions, lots of them, but most importantly it lets you draw your own conclusions at the end of the tale.

It’s not the kind of movie I expect to fill cinemas like Avatar did. In fact, the small audience in the theatre on a Sunday afternoon reminded me again of the small gathering that was there for Eat, Pray, Love. It’s not a flick for everyone because not everyone has the patience for the leisurely pace of this storytelling in this age of immediate gratification; and not everyone has the wherewithal to either have their faith questioned if they have some, or be exposed to it if they don’t. Like my book, it’s a film not about religion but about faith.

I was impressed with the actors in this film. The young Pi, played by Suraj Sharma made you laugh with him at times, especially when he sagely begins to come up and document rules for the taming of this tiger only to realise when he is nearly eaten that he has to discard all of them.

He made you shake your head a bit at his arrogance or perhaps stupidity when he piled all the food on one scrappy, make-shift raft and then proceeded to lose it all in one big wave. He made you shed a tear or sit awe-struck when he marvelled at the beauty he encountered and surrendered his will to God.

His father, Satosh Patel [Adil Hussain] made you understand how hard it was for him to have the faith he did and how he lost it along the way. His mother, Gita [Tabu] made you love her genteel nature and her willingness to allow her son to explore all the facets of life.

It’s not an easy thing in this day and age of so much information, technology or not, to go into a theatre that’s going to not show you murder and mayhem, but make you think, analyse or even just smile in wonder. The film might not be a box office puller, but it’s got that certain something that would make you purchase the DVD once you’ve seen it.

As I left the theatre the woman in front of me declared to the man she was with, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand”, and all I could do was smile because I suspect a lot of people will leave with the same impression. What was the truth of the movie? Was his fantasy story the real deal or was the second story he told at the end what really happened on that raft?

You see, what this film does is allow you to make up your own mind. How often does that happen in film these days? By the time you walk out of the cinema everything is usually wrapped up in a nice neat bow, all is concluded, even if not to your liking.

I loved that Life of Pi lets you make up your mind which version of the tale you choose to believe – whether Pi’s belief is God was enough or if you prefer the less fantastical tale. I know which one I enjoyed more, and I suspect so will you.

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