There have hardly been any films as influential as Pi, a film that put Darren Aronofsky on the map and made him such a powerful symbol in the world of filmmaking from the onset. He was young back then, and somehow he fought for the rights to this experimental masterpiece, and now it’s got an IMAX rerelease thanks to A24 that makes the film so much more iconic. However, how good was the film itself? Let’s talk about it in detail.
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The Movie Review
Pi follows the story of Max Cohen, a reclusive mathematician who is obsessed with finding the key to unlock the stock market. His search leads him to discover a mysterious 216-digit number that appears to hold the answer to all of life’s questions. As his obsession grows, Max finds himself pursued by a Wall Street firm and a group of Hasidic Jews who believe the number holds the key to unlocking the secrets of the Torah.
Pi is a unique film, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience where Aronofsky’s commanding direction takes center stage. Aronofsky masterfully weaves together the themes of mathematics, religion, and obsession in this intense thriller. The subject matter explored, contrary to the beliefs of many, was an entirely new thing back when the film came out in 1998. What keeps the film so grounded and modern even now, though, is the writing. It was sharp and witty, with an intelligently layered premise that utilized it to perfection.
Aronofsky wrote the story himself, with Sean Gullette and Eric Watson to support him, and you can tell that the film explores different themes that the writers all wanted to dive into. Having Sean Gullette as part of the writing team was a phenomenal decision on Aronofsky’s part because he molded the main character Max Cohen to fit himself perfectly.
Then you have Eric Watson’s part, who went on to collaborate with Aronofsky on many other projects such as Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain. Aronofsky is such a powerful director here, though. His use of the rapid-fire editing style ends up creating a sense of tension and urgency throughout the film, leaving you at the edge of your seat.
The main reason why the film is so full of charm and personality is mainly because of the characters that embody this story. Sean Gullette as Maximillian Cohen is phenomenally well-suited, he adjusted the character according to himself while helping in the creation of this story. It comes off wonderfully on the screen, as he embodies the character with pure distinction, making it his own in every conceivable way.
Then we have some fantastic characters in the film too, such as Mark Margolis’ Sol, Clint Mansell’s Photographer, Samia Shoaib as Devi, Oren Sarch and Stephen Pearlman, along with Abe Aronofsky and Ajay Naidu. They all bring a charm that heightens the film’s quality through the ceiling.
The film’s black-and-white photography is stunning. There are such stark contrasts in the coloring, along with a purely gritty and urban feel which helps in capturing the tension within Max’s world. The use of handheld cameras works to the film’s strengths. This adds to the frantic nature of the events. It does everything correctly to draw you deeper into Max’s struggle. Sitting through this film is almost like sitting through a rollercoaster without any protective measures, it grabs you in the same way that all of Aronofsky’s work does.
This was the first time Clint Mansell and Darren Aronofsky were collaborating on a feature-length project. Thankfully, Clint Mansell’s collaboration with Aronofsky becomes a powerhouse here, and it has remained a powerhouse throughout their career. This film was the reason why his career in composing took off, as it features one of the most chaotic, wild, and aggressive soundtracks you’ll hear.
Aronofsky’s debut was unlike anything he’s ever made, a film that divulged into chaos from the very moment its protagonist learned the power he held. It’s a unique experience full of tension and drama, with a hilarious cast of characters and a terrifyingly fast pacing. Darren Aronofsky became a major success after this film was released, and it is the primary reason why he is one of the most influential directors working right now.
- Unique and intense storytelling that blends mathematics, religion, and obsession
- Sharp and witty writing with an intelligently layered premise
- Great performance from Sean Gullette with a fantastic supporting cast
- Stunning black and white cinematography, with an effective use of handheld cameras
- Chaotic, wild, and aggressive soundtrack by Clint Mansell
- May not be for everyone due to the intense nature of the story and pacing
- Some may find the handheld camerawork and fast-paced editing style to be disorienting