Pi (1998) (R)

This review contains some SPOILERS
If there's a more intriguing and frustrating film than Darren Aronofsky's debut feature film "Pi" I implore you to find it.
Max is a genius, he can calculate numbers in his head without hesitation. But he's also crazy. We don't know exactly why and we're never told; but he takes these weird pills and injects himself with medications just to keep his hold on reality. Either that or he's epileptic, I never could figure it out.
Max is obsessed with the number pi, which is commonly seen numerically as 3.14. He's under the tutelage of an ex-math whiz named Sol.
In Max's obsession to find a pattern to the universe with math he decides to start attempting to predict the stock market, because it should behave like any other organism and thus, be explainable by math.
He calculates a certain stock to plummet the following day and immediately rejects it because it would seem that this particular stock company would have to reach an all time low to hit Max's prediction. After spitting out the predictions and a random number, his computer fries and he looses everything. In a mood swing, he throws the piece of paper away only to find out that this random number that the computer printed out could be very important.
The following day, his stock predictions come true; just one problem—he doesn't have that sheet of paper with the number on it anymore. He searches through the trash but never finds it and then he has to figure out a way to recreate the number because that's what will pacify him.
Max tells and retells this story of his childhood when his mother tells him not to look directly at the sun, so he does anyway and goes blind for a period of time. But as he looked at the sun and starts to experience blindness, he has an Emerson "all-seeing-eye" moment and he justifies it (somehow) with mathematics.
For a film entitled "Pi", this movie has not much to do with the irrational number at all. Yes, the gist of the movie is mathematics but not pi.
If you ever needed a reason to hate math you should watch "Pi" because it will really make you question the hard sciences.
"Pi" is shot much like Christopher Nolan's "Following"—black and white, time jumps, film grain, etc. It's hard after seeing Nolan's work, not to compare the two. It was both Nolan and Aronofsky's debut film and the characters and very similar to each other. But Nolan has a very poetic and gentle way to his film making and Aronofsky is blunt, brutal, and psychedelic.
Math takes a center stage in "Pi" but it leaves room for religion too, oh yes, some of that.
Even though "Pi" is neither graphic nor violent, it is extremely disturbing—one of the most unsettling pictures I've seen for reasons that I cannot divulge for giving away too much of the plot.
The ending seems to work until you reach the actual ending. Aronofsky seemed to have feared how forceful and offensive his ending could have been so it appears that he added another three minutes on to make people satisfied. Even though it would have been horribly morbid, "Pi" should have ended three minutes earlier.
As the movie plays out you are building and building to a (hopefully) magnificent reveal. But that never happens. While some could argue that each shot is intended, and I might agree, I found myself not caring to analyze each and every random clip that flitted across the screen.
"Pi" has an enormous amount of storytelling, what it lacks is believability.

Score: 2 out of 4 stars

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