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Movie Review

Pi

MPAA Rating: R for its intensity and some violence

Reviewed by: Jason Murphy
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller
Length:
84 min.
Year of Release:
1998
R

Starring: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman | Director: Darren Aronofsky

9:22. Personal note: When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun. So one day when I was six, I did… the next day I had my first headache.”

“Pi” has generated a huge reaction for a movie that was made on an extremely low budget (~$60,000, compared to the average blockbuster budget of ~$70 million). It won the best director award at this year’s Sundance film festival, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. And although its gritty look highlights its meager budget, “Pi” is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent films I have seen this year.

“Pi” is the story of Max Cohen, a mathematical genius, and his search for patterns in the numbers that surround him. He spends his time with Euclid, his home-built supercomputer, and Sol, his tutor and mentor. His assumptions in life? 1: Mathematics is the language of nature. 2: Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. 3: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore: there are patterns everywhere in nature. Max becomes obsessed in trying to find patterns in the numbers of stock market. But when his search for meanings becomes deeper, he is confronted by Hasidic Jews looking for patterns in the Torah, shadowy stock market investors seeking to profit from his knowledge, and eventually, the possibility of his own insanity . His defiance in “staring into the sun” could cost him his life.

“Pi” is not an easy film to watch. Because of its paranoid nature, use of grainy black and white and constant sound, many people will find it (understandably) grating and very disturbing. It contains a fair amount of swearing, and disturbing images. If you are easily disturbed and offended by such things, or are used to slick Hollywood production values, you should probably stay away from it. However, for those who can appreciate it, it is a very thought-provoking and intelligent film, and contains a great depth of ideas and meaning. For those looking for an original alternative to Hollywood’s run-of-the-mill thrillers, “Pi” delivers.

Viewer Comments
The previous review obviously misses the point that is made in “Pi”, which is a commentary on man’s search for meaning itself, and the possession of it. Obviously, it is impossible to go into any more detail without giving it away, so I won’t turn this forum over for the interest of one disgruntled viewer and spoil the movie for others. However, for those who are not stuck on the typical Hollywood paradigm of conflict resolution and happy endings with the moral of the story spelled out for them, “Pi” is a thought provoking art film worth seeing if you are interested in more than passive entertainment.
—Mark
I walked into the movie with very few ideas with what it was about. I still can’t really tell you what it was about. But, I loved it. It had great cinematography and good acting for people I’ve never heard of. While I can’t consider it religious, it is one of the few movies I’ve seen in recent years that is about the search for something spiritual. The main character is not just looking for numbers, he is looking for the meaning of life. He begins at numbers and it continues into a search for God. It is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year.
—Josh Dorst, age 24
refreshingly intelligent… I saw this film recently and agree with the reviewer that it is refreshingly intelligent. However, as mentioned, it has several disturbing scenes (not obscene, but gross) where the lead character is trying to come to terms with his “gift” (or is it a curse…?). For those who enjoy an artsy, thinking person’s movie occasionally—see it!
—Leigh Dawson
“an excercise in futility”… Was this movie interesting to watch? Certainly. Was it original? Definitely. I’ve never seen a film dealing with the subject matter presented in “Pi.” However, I challenge the reviewer to list for us potential “Pi” viewers some of the “meaning” he claims to find in the film. I strongly suspect he’s jumped on the bandwagon along with countless other critics around who praise anything that comes along just for being different—“Pi” was for me and the two friends I saw it with, an excercise in futility. While it presented some interesting possibilites, it never came to any conclusions, rather it seems apparent that the filmmaker got lost after coming up with an interesting premise and then had no idea how to tie it all up in any way that made sense. Come on—great depth of ideas and meaning? Please! I’d like to know, honestly, what, if any, meaning you found here?! I left the theater bewildered, and annoyed at having spent $7.50 on another “brilliant” mess of a movie…
—Carl Adams Jr., age 26