Life of Pi was showing on television last night and I decided it was finally time to catch up with it. Unfortunately, the ‘twist’ in the ending left me with the unpleasant impression of having been led up the garden path and having had my time wasted by a monumental shaggy dog, or as Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian puts it, ‘shaggy tiger’ tale. Added to this was a not inconsiderable and uneasy whiff of neo-orientalism.
Like another critic, Will Leitch, I was disappointed that the author of the book on which this film is based wasn’t content to simply settle for a ripping adventure yarn of a boy on a boat with a tiger, but instead felt the need to indulge in extensive ‘postmodern’ pseudo-philophising.
Elsewhere, James Wood in a review of Yann Martel’s original 2002 book observes: “Nothing marks Life of Pi as a contemporary Postmodern novel more strongly than its theological impoverishment (for all that it seems to scream theological richness): instead of being interested in the theological basis of Pi’s soul, it is really interested only in the theological basis of storytelling. The former is or could be a day to day, lived reality; the latter is only a piquant but now familiar contemporary abstraction.”