Picks and Pans Review: pi
First, a refresher course for those of us forever mathematically challenged: Pi, the symbol for which is the title of this disturbing intellectual thriller, is always the number 3.14...carried to infinity.
It is the notion of infinity, stretching beyond what the mind can grasp, that is the starting point for pi. Shot in black and white on a dinky $60,000 budget, the movie follows a math whiz (Gullette) who's obsessively hunting for a pattern in the seemingly random numbers of the stock market. As he feverishly calculates away, both a Wall Street firm and a breakaway Hasidic sect whose members believe God is in the numbers, try to force Gullette into sharing his research. It's all very intense, and, as pi progresses, ever more dismaying as it becomes clear that what we are witnessing is less a mathematical breakthrough than a mental breakdown. What's most startling and impressive about pi is how first-time filmmaker Darren Aronofsky has found a surrealistic visual vocabulary (an ant in a computer, a hand dripping blood, a pulsating brain) to convey both intellectual overdrive and madness, pi is not for the squeamish. (R)
Bottom Line: More than even algebra, pi will creep you out