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Pi (1998)

I’m not sure this movie makes sense.  Maybe I’m not smart enough; I never was very good at math.  But isn’t is supposed to be about π ?  There’s a reference to pi in the beginning, but by the end, it has nothing to do with the ratio between the radius of a circle and its circumference – they’re all obsessed with a mysterious 216 digit number that may be the name of God or able to predict the stock market, or both.  Whatever it is, it’s not pi.

It’s about a brilliant mathematician who lives in a cruddy little apartment filled with computer gear, which he is trying to use to discover a mathematical pattern that will explain life, the universe, and everything (hey, here’s a hint: ask the mice.)  Both the government and a band of Hasidic priests are interested in his research, and meanwhile his mentor tells him to give it all up, for mysterious reasons.

Maybe it’s not supposed to make sense.  For what it’s worth, the best part is the part that makes the least sense.  Aronofsky shoots in high contrast black and white, which is visually striking throughout the film.  But when our hero has the number in his head and everyone’s after him – or maybe he’s lost his mind and it’s all paranoid delusion — it takes it to another level.  Everything is so discombobulated and confused that it would all just be a jumble if it were filmed in hi def color, but on the black and white stock, it almost becomes an abstraction.  I felt like I was watching avant garde animation, or a really out there music video.  Or like I was inside the head of someone losing their mind.   It’s a neat trick, a remarkable effective bit of filmmaking.


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