Obsessed with the belief that the universe can be explained by numbers, reclusive maths prodigy Max Cohen (Gullette) uses his home-built super-computer to try and discover a pattern which will predict the stock market. As a side-effect of his genius, Max suffers from debilitating headaches, and as these worsen he beings to experience vivid hallucinations. On the verge of discovering the formula, various individuals become interested in his work…
A no-budget mathematical thriller shot in grainy black and white, Darren Aronofsky’s feature debut, like the vast majority of his work, isn’t for everyone. Though comparable to the early work of both David Lynch and David Cronenberg (given the twisted mix of psycho-drama and body horror), Pi stands as a distinct calling card for the avant-garde filmmaker’s opinion-dividing style. Typically intoxicating and characteristically surreal, some will find a stylish and intellectually-stimulating mind-screw; while others a strange and maddeningly ambiguous indie movie about maths.
Still, there’s little doubt that the narrative touches on some intriguing notions, asking questions about God and the very nature of infinity. More than anything though, Pi – or Π, if you want to go with the Greek symbol – is a conspiracy-drenched character piece about a man blinded to all else bar his obsession, and the manner in which this affects his life. In truth, Sean Gullette’s Max is a fairly unsympathetic lead, yet we’re drawn in thanks to the eerie, dream-like atmosphere which Aronofsky employs to nightmarish effect. The film was made for a mere $60,000 (financed entirely from $100 donations from his friends and family), but the low-budget feel actually adds to the sinister edge which cuts right through proceedings.
A no-budget mathematical thriller shot in grainy black and white, Darren Aronofsky’s feature debut will divide opinion. Some will hail it as a stylish and masterful career-starter, while others will dismiss it as a weird and low-budget maths movie.