π

Released in 1998. Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Rated R for language and disturbing imagery.

CAST:

Max Cohen, the protagonist, is a brilliant mathematician who makes his living by finding patterns.However, Max's brilliance comes at a steep price. He has debilitating migraine headaches, constant nosebleeds, and violent, scary-as-hell hallucinations that are the result of seizures.

Max believes that everything in life can be reduced to underlying patterns, or its basic math (kind of like Lawrence Waterhouse). His theory is as follows:

  1. Mathematics is the language of nature;
  2. Everything around us can be represented and understood by numbers;
  3. If you graph these numbers, patterns emerge. Therefore: there are patterns everywhere in nature.

The project that he is currently working on is to find a pattern in the stock market. He has built a supercomputer called Euclid (a little in-joke, as Euclid, in Elements of Geometry, made certain observations that resulted in the discovery of π) to help him find this pattern.

Max is a loner who avoids the people around him to extremes. The only person he interacts with is his math professor, Sol Robeson. According to Max, Sol "nearly made it." What Max means is that Sol almost discovered an underlying pattern in the digits of π, before having a nervous breakdown. They play Go together, and Sol advises Max to stop with this obsessive search. He tells Max that some things are not governed by patterns. "Life isn't just mathematics." Max refuses to believe him.

While he does not initiate personal contact with anyone, there are people on the fringes of Max's life. Devi is a young woman who lives in the apartment next door to his, with her boyfriend Farrouhk. She often brings over meals (leaving them by the door), sensing that he neglects to eat. Farrouhk is overpossesive, tending towards abusive, usually misinterpreting Devi's attempts at kindness as Max's seduction of Devi. Often it is Farrouhk and Devi together who find Max after he has collapsed from one of his seziures. Mrs. Ovadia is Max's landlord. After one seizure, she is called because Devi and Farrouhk are unable to get into Max's apartment. She is furious because Max has installed too many additional locks, and Euclid is probably not within regulations on what tennants are allowed to have in their apartments. Jenna is a little girl who lives in his apartement building and always tests Max with obscure math problems, to see if he can do them faster than her calculator.

Max's research with Euclid does not go unnoticed. A young woman named Marcy Dawson leaves cryptic messages on his answering machine, and arranges to bump into him "accidentally." She claims to be from a Wall Street firm that wants to hire him. While sitting in a diner, he meets a Hasidic Jew named Lenny Meyer, who tells him that the Torah is also numerical, and that people have been trying to find the underlying code of it as well.

As a result of these chance meetings, Max is a desirable commodity. This furthers his paranoia and heightens his stress, resulting in more migraines and hallucinations. At one point, he sees a human brain pulsing on the floor of a New York City subway car. It also drives his research. Unfortunately, Euclid keeps spitting out a 216 digit bug. This bug has been found before, by Sol. It is what caused his nervous breakdown. 216 is also believed, by Kabalists, to be the number of letters in the ultimate name of God. So everyone wants this number, which truly exists only in Max's mind.

Pi is a short film (by feature length standards), clocking in around 79 minutes. The film was a first for director Darren Aronofksy, of Requiem for a Dream fame. Despite its length, this film can stay with you for a long time, as it is a veritable mindfuck of a film. Shot in grainy, high contrast black and white, with noir-style voiceovers, this film is a true psychological thriller. As the film progresses, it becomes harder to distinguish Max's hallucinations from reality. His paranoia overwhelms the viewer. The ending is sad, powerful, and abrupt. All in all, a great film.

Because I believe in giving credit where credit is due (and this node took some research):
Tim Dirk's list of the greatest films of 1998 on www.filmsite.org
Hollywood.Com's review and cast list www.hollywood.com/movies/detail/movie/178105
Feomante's Horror Homepage - Pi review by E.C. McMullen Jr. - www.feoamante.com/Movies/PQR/pi.html
Pi Movie Review by Michael A. Maynez http://www.casenet.com/michael/pi.htm
Pi's official website: www.pithemovie.com