Review: Pi (1998)

pi_movie-vi

I hate math, always have, always will, don’t know what this says about me!

Written By: Darren Aronofsky & Sean Gullette
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

The need is within all of us to define every facet of our lives. For some reason we feel the need to compartmentalize and label all that we see, worst of all we try to provide rigid order where order doesn’t exist. I don’t know why I do this and I certainly don’t know why anyone else is so order stricken. I’m not an answer man, I’m the man always looking for answers to the questions that bounce around in my brain. I must take a look in the mirror though, because by seeking answers to every question I come across am I not applying more order where none exists?

Other films have tackled the idea of a life spent seeking order, in that area Pi doesn’t tread any new ground. Actually, Pi doesn’t tread any new ground in any area, but it asks questions that interest me. Pi follows through on the idea of definite order to a conclusion that is both satisfactory and startling. When Max finally lets go and stops caring about the numbers he is seemingly at peace, the frantic visual style calming down supports this theory. Where Darren Aronofsky really questions the lives we lead is through the serenity that Max appears to find. If Max can only find peace by giving up what drives his life then what does that say about our drives and desires?

The ideas put forth in Pi are interesting, but it is an interesting film in other ways. The information we receive is interesting on its own, the little tidbits we learn about Judaism and math are interesting in a “I never would have thought about that” way. Visually Aronofsky opts for a frenetic style to accompany an energized pace and souped up lead character. The three compliment one another throughout the film, creating an affecting meld between the two that kept my attention. It’s also nice to see that in his first film Aronofsky was just as thought provoking of a director as he was in his latest film, The Wrestler.

There are a few moments when Pi goes a little too overboard with its information delivery. It’s mainly near the middle, right before the breakdown in Max’s apartment where his neighbors arrive to help him. There’s a such a thing as too much information and in that moment, and a few others, I felt that Aronofsky tired to get across too much information in too fast of a fashion. That may be something that only bothers me though, as it still fits in with the tone and pacing of the film.

Pi is a very good thriller, but it isn’t a thriller about guns and chases, it is a thriller that seeks to thrill through brain stimulation. Pi succeeded in stimulating my brain and in captivating me from beginning to end. It’s not the best you will find from Aronofsky, but Pi remains a great first entry from a director who has gone on to make a series of splendid pictures. Take a chance and give Pi a shot, it will challenge how you view the world, but that’s the point of Pi isn’t it?

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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4 responses to “Review: Pi (1998)

  1. Good review, freakin’ love this movie. What a head trip, man, but an example of great film making. Glad you dug it.

  2. James Blake Ewing

    I really liked the film until the point where it felt the need to explain the numbers or at least have someone prescribe meaning to them. At that point the film lost some of its magic for me.

    But still, like you said, it’s a fantastic look at this obsessive young man that very much delves into human nature.

  3. Aiden – It is indeed a head trip, but a very well orchestrated head trip.

    James – Hmmm, I don’t recall it explaining much, that’s something I’ll have to look out for if I ever watch it again.

    Dain – Glad to hear it. 🙂

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