Pi (Darren Aronofsky, 1998)
[originally posted 2Mar2000]
I wanted to like Pi. I’d heard hundreds of people, if not thousands, praise this movie to the high heavens. And, actually, everything they said was right. It’s smart, it’s fast-paced enough to leave the viewer breathless, it’s witty in its own twisted way, and it never shies away from any of the gory details. It’s a film that makes mathematics interesting. It’s informed by the Cronenberg/Giger axis of biomechanics, which cannot in any way be a bad thing. So what was it about this film that left me cold?
1. Many people also praised its originality–wrongly. Pi came out not long after the whole Bible Code scam, and much of the underlying plot is patterned on the Bible Code. I can’t recall whether it had been exposed as a scam by the time Pi was conceived (which would at least make it satire), which is throwing me off. I’m willing to give Aronofsky the benefit of the doubt here.
2. A simple problem translating from big screen to small. It just didn’t absorb me the way I felt it would. I LIKE math.
That’s not to say there weren’t elements of the film that worked, and worked very well; Sean Gullette is an actor from whom we should be hearing much more, the soundtrack is fantastic, and Aronofsky may have a bright career in front of him if he can come up with more original material. But this didn’t live up to the hype… though it could have.
(It also didn’t help that I kept comparing it, probably subconsciously, to Eraserhead, a film I just can’t stand.) **