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Reviews & Ratings for
Pi More at IMDbPro »

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25 out of 35 people found the following review useful:


Author: alyssong-1
21 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a strange and at times disturbing movie, but I strongly disagree with the statement that the director didn't know how to end the movie. The ending the director chose was very powerful (in my opinion). He was personifying Sol's hypothesis about computers: when they begin to crash they go in a cycle, and eventually realize their destruction, and end up spitting out their "ingredients" and putting an end to themselves. Max is like a computer. He goes in these destructive cycles with his headaches and eventually starts hallucinating. Max eventually figures out the magic number, but ends up destroying it as well as "crashing" (or drilling out in this case) the part of him (his computer) that is causing him such turmoil. The last time we see Max is when he is in the park, looking at the leaves in a tree looking actually happy. He isn't being torn apart trying to figure out the mathematical reasons behind life. I think the director had every intention to portray that. It was a very powerful ending, and a very well done movie.

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27 out of 40 people found the following review useful:


Author: Christopher Thomas from Florida
21 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie honestly confused the hell out of me. Being someone fairly interested/talented in math and science, I was absolutely lost as to the entire mathematical/scientific storyline being completely bogus. After reading some reviews, people don't even seem to mind. 'It's fine the storyline makes no sense,' no, it's really not. That alone was enough to turn me off, but the bad sound (Was that what it was? The music and effects just really started to irritate me, who knows) and over-the-top acting just made it worse.

I'm all for independent cinema, in fact that's the career I'm seriously considering at the moment, but independent is NOT in any way, shape or form an excuse for bad. Writing a scientific, mathematically themed script with 100% bogus science and math is absolutely wrong. Film makers are expected to have done research and know what they are talking about. Pi simply fails, and takes too many cinematic risks that don't equate to a good movie, but rather a poorly thatched together piece. It just didn't work.

Lastly, the religion element was over the top and entirely un-necessary. Those scientifically and religiously minded are typically VERY averse to each other, even if it isn't always so you don't want to mix the two, and doing so in this movie I'm sure turned a lot of people off.

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21 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Senseless, surreal, making-a-fool-of-the-viewer movie.

Author: maurya k2k from Germany
6 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all, this movie has absolutely nothing to do with mathematics or rationality except the Greek letter pi, which is the number 3,14159265358..., the formulas the main character wrote on a piece of paper in the underground-train and the few statements he cited from famous mathematicians. But relating the number pi with this Jewish religion-thing and with the stock-market is such an absurd idea, I just do not know what to say. No person who has some idea of mathematics would EVER make such abstruse connections.

The viewers, who are so enthused by this film, were only totally blinded by the main character's fits and the "super cool" pursuing-scenes, from which I only got a head-ache.

After a certain time, the movie was only about the sick fits of the main character and these pursuing-scenes, which are totally a pathetic and a desperate way of trying to make the movie fascinating for the viewer.

The movie-maker probably tried to make the movie totally spectacular with the schizophrenia, the fits of the main character, the sickness of the main character in general, the shaking of the camera in the pursuing-scenes, the black-and-white picture. But it did not impress me, it only made me almost throw up.

And by the way, if you bore with an electrical drill into your head, you die or you get totally disabled for life. You do not get away with only losing your intelligence like the main character in the movie.

The average viewer is totally made a fool of, because the movie makes him think that movie-plot is really "intelligent", which it is not, it is just all fictive, incoherent, disconnected and senseless.

And finally, the main character is another totally surreal and unrealistic product of the movie-maker's brain or society. There is always this "thin line" between genius and madness, but it is only cliché which is always applied to all fictive or non-fictive "genius" personalities, but I find this cliché totally ridiculous.

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26 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Things With No Real Answer Should Never Be Questioned.

Author: tfrizzell from United States
6 August 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Darren Aronofsky's directorial debut is a hypnotic film that is seemingly just as infinite as the mathematical formula it is based on. Tortured math freak Sean Gullette sits at home in a New York City apartment and tries to figure out a system to predict the stock market. He believes that Pi holds the answer to the otherwise impossible question. Gullette continues to consult number theorist Ben Shenkman, but the closer he gets to what he is looking for the more mysterious Shenkman becomes. Gullette keeps on running into Orthodox Jew Mark Margolis and a representative from a high-powered Wall Street firm (Pamela Hart). It appears that Gullette's work could lead to monetary success for some and the possibility of finding God for the Jewish community. The film is an intensely interesting production that toes the line of cinematic excellence. Made in a month on a miniscule shoe-string budget, "Pi" makes a real case for most memorable film of 1998. The film's huge success (considering the amount of time and money spent on it) would lead to more potent work from Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream"). 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Low key thriller that is interesting rather than intense or gripping

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
28 March 2002

Max Cohen is a mathematical and computer genius who seeks mathematical patterns in everything. However he also suffers from intense headaches, dellusions and some paranoia. He looks into patterns in the stock market only to find his ability sought by both a Wall Street trader, Marcy Dawson, and a Hasidic, Lenny Meyer, who both want the code for different reasons.

Before I saw this I must admit I heard a lot of hype but no actual details – so I was half-expecting an intense `Usual Suspects' thriller mixed with maths. So I was a little disappointed at first. However once over my preconceptions I was able to settle into this. That is, if you can `settle into' something like this. The story is clever it plays on paranoia and delusion – in fact it may or may not happen. Even at the end of the film I was left wondering if Max was a genius or if he was a nutter and all this was in his mind. The film uses this paranoia to create some good scenes and the thumping base music ups the ante a bit.

It's not an easy film to enjoy in the traditional sense, but it is an experience. The subject matter is different enough to be interesting and the telling is clever – I for one can't wait to see what the director does with Batman: year one, it certainly won't be a camp Joel Schumacher film anyway!

Gullette (who also co-wrote) is good in the lead and is totally convincing. Mark Margolis is also good and it's good to see him in different roles, I know him from his strong role in Oz although he's not as good here. The rest of the cast are good – but really the star here is the director as he manages to put us in Max's mind and involve us in the paranoia so thoroughly that we're not sure what is real and what isn't.

Overall this isn't as masterly as the hype suggests but it's different enough and compelling enough to be more than gripping for 90 minutes.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

not about math, but about obsession, paranoia, searching for answers never found

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
9 September 2006

Pi is the kind of movie I wished I could've seen in one of those dank art-house movie theaters in New York City, as it's practically gift-wrapped for the crowds. But it's not done with every shot lingering on the characters, soaking in minimalism in its black and white photography, quite the opposite. Darren Aronofsky is a filmmaker I first got into through Requiem for a Dream, which now years after I saw it I want to revisit again upon the soon to be released the Fountain and especially after now seeing Pi. Before with 'Requiem', I did like the movie a lot, but felt a little apprehensive about deeming it that old term 'masterpiece' as the editing, while ultra fast for a purpose, almost came off as too "MTV" for me. But years later, after hundreds of more films taken in, I'm ready for a second look. In this particular case, Pi is also the kind of movie that warrants a second look at the director's other films. His themes run just as much together as does his breakneck style. And it's not just to show off; he truly does get inside a psychology through subjective camera AND editing, to a degree that might impress Hitchcock, albeit with some whiplash.

Max Cohen played by Sean Gullette is the protagonist of the story, who's main foe is none other than the universe itself, in a sense, all through one number. Or rather, a series of numbers, one which might unlock the Stock Market secret for him. He doesn't even want to play the market, mind you, but the point for him- if one can follow- might be attributed to a repeated memory he has of looking at the sun as a boy, and soon looking past the shock of actually looking long at it. This is a very small device by Aronofsky but it works well to establish- and continue- this man's downward spiral. And spirals, by the way, seem to also figure into the film, as well as a secret technology firm (with a woman who reminded me of Condaleeza Rice look-alike), and especially a near undercover Hasidim ring where they need the numbers *in* Cohen's head to unlock some big secret to God. But even with all of this pressure, Cohen can't shake what's dogging him around, in his own cramped, wire-ridden apartment, with many bugs crawling around.

The key for this movie really is atmosphere, in the acting (if it makes you uncomfortable sometimes that's the point too, and it's probably the strangest performance of a lifetime for Gullette), the production design (that apartment and the subways), the grainy, spectacular photography by Matthew Libatique, the editing to be sure- which here, unlike the breakneck 'Requiem', does take a break from the cuts so quick they almost past subliminally (which isn't bad)- and the moody music that is so slight you almost forget its there. It even works for me, and this is a big plus, as someone who's not really interested in mathematics (worst subject in school), and even better as it drew me in to his obsessions with it. I really liked one of the early scenes between Max and his the friendly Hassidic man who explains on paper different numbers and their relation to parts of the Torah. And, in the end, it all comes down to getting engrossed through what the filmmaker's bringing in with this man. There is a sort of detachment from reality- that most of us would never touch much of this with a ten foot pole- but then again it really isn't. Aronofsky also makes a point of some hallucinations/dreams adding to the ambiance, skidding almost towards the pretentious, and thus creating a world all of its own in Pi for Max, and for us as well.

A film that I shall certainly seek out again when I can, if only to see if I can understand some things a little more (or maybe not as case might be), and to see such a powerhouse performance from Gullette. Grade: A

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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

The physical pain

Author: haggar
4 December 2001

I am sure not many real scientists have survived watching this movie. I personally felt the stupidity literally painful. It hurts even more because it's interspersed with interesting mathematical concepts. I am sad that a great opportunity has been completely obliterated. Certainly, a movie about patterns in Pi, about the Fibonacci numbers, the golden section and (not directly mentioned, but hinted at) fractals, has to be interesting. Right? Well, not really. This movie proves that if you have a certain quantity of daftness in, you can spoil it. "Pi" in particular, had way too much of it.

This movie resambled a highschool jock that read a few columns in a magazine, and is trying to impress the girls with it. Some of the girls will fall for it, no doubt.

To me, it was irritating and stupid.

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61 out of 114 people found the following review useful:

Overrated, silly sci-fi movie

Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
3 November 2002

I still can't believe all the people who tell me they love this movie. To me, it is the best possible example of style taking over a film, because this is a film with no real substance: instead of a plot, we are simply supposed to believe that this guy has gone insane because of math (with a bunch of pictures from some book to illustrate the possibility) and that he's being chased by mad yiddish people. This is so silly I don't even know how to say it. There are so many fevered dream type sequences that they lose any impact their dynamic visual style gives them by the end of the film.

I was not surprised to see that older voters on IMDB have not rated this film so highly -- they have seen enough movies with quality and substance to know when the director's just putting a mickey over on the audience. Most older people also appreciate it when a movie actually has a story. This movie was made to impress a bunch of people who never understood any math in the first place, but would love to believe they did. For those who have studied esoteric mathematics, this movie is an insult to our intelligence.

A java drama with no heart.

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20 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Love It Or Hate It Indie Art House Flick

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
27 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maths genius Max Cohen finds himself being pressured by a a corporate gang who want to make profits on the stock market and a bunch of kabbala Jews who want to contact god

There that's the premise of PI . One that on the surface seems both entertaining and slightly bizarre , but I have to warn you that this is one of the most bizarre movies I've seen in a long time , try and imagine David Lynch on acid and you may just start to understand how strange this movie is . Did I use the word " Understand " in this review ? Believe me that word will be coming up frequently since I couldn't understand the plot at all , that's right this reviewer has the courage to admit that he doesn't understand maths , he doesn't understand kabbalistic dogma , or that doesn't understand what maths has got to do with the stock market since it's run by market forces not mathematical equations . I also didn't understand the scenes with Max stabbing a brain with a pencil or what he was doing sitting on a park bench at the end since he drove a power drill through his head in the penultimate scene .

If any of the above sounds so crazy you want to watch it because of the craziness factor be warned because much of the running time is taken up with Max sitting in front of a computer doing equations . That's right a man sitting in front of a computer same as you're doing right now as I sit in a computer typing up this review . Can there be anything as tedious or as unexciting or as uncinematic as watching someone in front of a computer ? The only scene of PI that elicts any type of excitement is when Max is saved from the corporate bad guys by the kabbalistic bad guys but apart from that the rest of PI revolves mainly around Max tapping away at his keyboard doing maths

Perhaps because of the dry subject matter director Darren Aronofsky does make the movie as bizarre as possible but it's nightmarish rather than involving , disturbing rather than entertaining , hateful rather than admirable with the cinematography , editing and musical score making this a very memorable piece of indie art house if for not all the wrong reasons then certainly not for all the right reasons - I've watched a great number of horror movies and very few of them have freaked me out as much as PI . Though if you look at the trivia section on this page you'll see that the production has a few interesting stories behind it so credit where it's due . But it still remains a movie that will be hated by a mainstream audience

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28 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Not a Modern Prometheus

Author: chocolat_oasis from Belgium
28 June 2003

Like Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", "Pi" aims to be a modern update to the greek Prometheus and Icarus myths. It warns against scientists venturing into certain areas of knowledge. Unfortunately one point where "Pi" fails miserably is in its depiction of modern science: the days of early greek scientists working mostly alone is long gone, modern science is very much a social endeavor. "Pi" however sticks to the rogue scientist image embodied in the loner mathematician Max Cohen. Its modernization seems to be limited to technological aspects: there's a lot of technobabble about patterns in the number Pi, computers becoming sentient etc. All good natured fun in "Star Trek" but the seriousness with which it is brought in "Pi" made its inaccuracy really annoying. Perhaps the movie's makers should have used Shelley's approach to avoid embarrasing themselves: just mention all that technology is dangerous and you don't want to talk about it to avoid corrupting the reader/viewer. But then again, what would have been left in this movie? Nothing much I'm afraid, Max doesn't seem to be a very interesting character, his relationship (or lack thereof) with his female neighbour is only briefly touched upon etc. Overall "Pi" is repetitious, contains too many scenes of Max just vomiting/banging his head into something/... and is just plain boring.

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