A year before the roughly-shot The Blair Witch Project came out, Artisan Entertainment brought an even rougher film, titled Pi (the math symbol for 3.14...). Shot in a crude looking, sharply contrasted black and white, the result comes out to be a visually stunning and odd piece of work that caught attention at the Sundance Festival.
Pi is about Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), a mathematician who owns a supercomputer that believes that there is a natural pattern to everything in life, including the stock market. He can almost see it, but not quite, but is censored by his mentor who had a stroke when he came too close to the truth. His foundation is built around the golden formula, which I've learned in math a little bit, and the circle of theta. As he gets closer and closer to the truth, he begins to go a little crazy.
There is nothing real exciting about the acting, but considering the low budget production and the manner of the film, it fits. The visual work is what really sticks out, especially when Max experiences hallucinations on account of his seizures. The black and white contrast is really strong (many scenes will not half grays), which also stands out.
On the other hand, it gets sort of boring. We get to see Max go through his episodes several times throughout the film, without any resolution. The connection to God is interesting but was a little drawn out, and the climax, where he is being chased by those people, is never really explained. Who were those people? Questions like these should not be left unanswered by the end.
Pi is a smart and visually impressive film, but you might have to have a somewhat mathematical mind to like it. It was interesting, but near the end, I had to fight to stay awake.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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