Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Ooh yeah, when math is sexy enough for a post title.

It doesn't take a genius to work out what I just watched - that heading is π truncated to fifty decimal places. At least, it is according to Wikipedia... I've never quite been convinced that Wikipedia is the mother of all internet knowledge.

But on to π. (Shall I keep calling it π? Or shall I switch it to the more commonly rendered when written Pi? I'm going to stick with the character, because that is how it appears on my DVD cover.)

π is the directorial debut of Darren Aronofsky, who went on the make the incredible Requiem For A Dream (one of my favs), The Fountain (which I'm yet to see, but still really want to despite mixed critical response) and most recently The Wrestler, which is most definitely a major departure from his first two films, and I expect also from The Fountain.

Maximillian Cohen (Sean Gullette) is a genius mathematician, intent on seeing math in everything around him. His pet project to start the film is to unravel the pattern in the stock market - he asserts later that he doesn't care about the money, he is just interested in unlocking the pattern, and I believe him. As his search continues, however, the search narrows to trying to unlock a 216 digit number, to which end he is stalked both by a strange Kaballah cult and an investment firm, both intent on finding out what the number is. But it's what the number means that matters.

π is a bold and audacious debut from the filmmaker. Filmed in black and white and featuring pretty much one guy all the time, with little in the way of support, the film decides to hammer home a point and doesn't stop. Entering the pathological mind of Cohen is what it's all about - Aronofsky introduces his trademark rapid-fire repetitive cutting and hounding score from the brilliant Clint Mansell (his debut film also, and how thankful I am for it) to make sure you never forget how crazy Cohen is, but how focused and driven he is also.

It's definitely not his best film, but it's his first film and, as mentioned, it is damned impressive. The questions you find yourself asking at the end about the reality of Cohen's purpose are interesting, but ultimately I never quite empathised with his character. I watched, was intrigued, but didn't feel. Though at no point was I bored or wanting to turn it off. Cerebral rather than visceral. 3.5 stars, but I may revise that up or down over coming days, as I have a feeling it may stick with me. Though I might be wrong.

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