User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 75 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 68 out of 75
  2. Negative: 4 out of 75
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  1. Jan 24, 2015
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One of the very under-appreciated films. Darren Aronofsky's Pi (1998) is every bit original as it is unique. It's dark, convoluted, twisted and artistic. Most of the critics have misunderstood the genius of the film. It's a film about the pain that accompanies passion and the fine line between madness and genius. It's about an obsessive mathematician Max Coen who's success comes hand in hand with his demise. He's desperate to know the truth behind a mystical code he encountered whilst trying to predict the stock market and he brings great pain to himself in search of that truth. The ending where he gives it up and rather just sits down patiently, enjoying the image of swirling trees and playing games with the little girl is as beautiful and powerful an ending as I've seen in a while. Anything that even in the slightest and subtle way strays from the conventionality of hollywood films today is not well received. Pi is great. Expand
  2. Dec 6, 2013
    1
    It felt more like a random assortment of shots more so than a film. I get that it was extremely low budget, but maybe not releasing this one as a feature film would've been a better idea because I think there's more grains in this video than there are grains of sand on the beach. Only affect I enjoyed was the black and white. I felt that it added to the thrill/suspense intended, butIt felt more like a random assortment of shots more so than a film. I get that it was extremely low budget, but maybe not releasing this one as a feature film would've been a better idea because I think there's more grains in this video than there are grains of sand on the beach. Only affect I enjoyed was the black and white. I felt that it added to the thrill/suspense intended, but otherwise, despite Max's growing insanity, it does not really provide any thrills that I was hoping for. Ultimately, it just left me confused. Expand
  3. Sep 13, 2013
    8
    The best word describing this movie is "disturbing". This is a psychological thriller made in black and white colors. Stylish visuals. Rather unusual movie, I've seen nothing like this before, surely worth watching. Another thing great OST with Clint Mansell's main theme.
  4. Jun 22, 2013
    5
    The 15th anniversary edition of Pi is being released, and as an admirer of the film, Black Swan, I finally availed myself of the opportunity to see a movie that has to be termed Early Aronofsky. Filmed in black and white, it is the confusing and excessive story of a mathematician who has stumbled upon a data stream of 216 numbers that is a secret code coveted by both greedy Wall StreetThe 15th anniversary edition of Pi is being released, and as an admirer of the film, Black Swan, I finally availed myself of the opportunity to see a movie that has to be termed Early Aronofsky. Filmed in black and white, it is the confusing and excessive story of a mathematician who has stumbled upon a data stream of 216 numbers that is a secret code coveted by both greedy Wall Street moguls and religious Hasids. In an eerie and perhaps brilliant precognition of the kind of vice and avarice that would overwhelm Wall Street ten years later, the financial fiends believe the number will give them control of the stock market. The Hasidim believe the number is the pattern they have been searching for in the Torah, which will give them the true name of God and somehow restore the Temple and the ancient glory of Judaism. The mechanism for how this is supposed to work is unclear, but Max Cohen, the mathematician played by Sean Gullette, is being followed and harassed by all parties because of his intellect and his innate ability to decipher this code.

    As a child, Max's brain was affected by an incident where he almost blinded himself by staring into the sun, and the trauma turned him into a mathematical and computer genius. Aronofsky's 1998 vision of a computer genius was already outdated as we see Max sitting in an apartment with an enormous home-built computer that takes up the entire apartment. At that time, personal computers with their small CPU chips were not only in widespread use, they were much more powerful than any home-built computer could ever hope to be. The first programmable computer, called ENIAC, which was built in the 1940's, filled an entire room, weighed thirty tons, and contained 18,000 vacuum tubes--and ENIAC was much less powerful than a typical personal computer. So a computer genius in 1998 would have been very happy to have an IBM PC sitting on his desk in his small apartment. It would have been all he needed.

    The Kabbalah behind the story is also a little weak. The 216-letter name of God is one of several that are considered to be the true name, the most famous one being the four Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton--yod, hey, vav, hey, or YHVH in English, and rendered erroneously as “Jehovah” by Christians. The name is not supposed to be spoken; thus, the original, ancient pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton has been lost and no one knows how to say it. The 216-letter name referred to in the film is actually the 72 names of God, all of them consisting of three letters (therefore adding up to 216), and all of them well documented and well known to the Hasidim.

    The film is a psychological thriller with nerve-wracking music as Max races to find this 216-number data string. It causes him migraine headaches, paranoia, over-the-top agitation and distress, and too many times Max is screaming, passing out in his apartment, and waking up with a nosebleed. When he leaves his apartment, he is often being chased by the people who want the number, and the camera work is so dizzying that the viewer ends up getting vertigo. The denouement is not very satisfying--some intrigue is built up in the plot device of a numerical pattern that could control the stock market or restore the Jews to a messianic age, but in the end, the tortured Max drills a hole in his brain, which should have killed him, but fiction being what it is, instead just takes away the mathematical talent that makes him a hunted man. After performing this operation in his bathroom, Max can live a normal life.

    The film is historically of interest because it is suggestive of the later themes that Aronofsky will treat with greater success and detail in subsequent movies.
    Expand
  5. May 27, 2012
    8
    This is one of those atmospheric, creepy movies that grabs you and doesn't let go. I seem to love (The Wrestler, Pi) or hate (Black Swan, The Fountain) Aronofsky's films, but admire the visuals even in the ones I don't like. I always look forward to seeing his next film, and I can't say that about every director. The lead in this film, Sean Gullette, is excellent, as is the rest of theThis is one of those atmospheric, creepy movies that grabs you and doesn't let go. I seem to love (The Wrestler, Pi) or hate (Black Swan, The Fountain) Aronofsky's films, but admire the visuals even in the ones I don't like. I always look forward to seeing his next film, and I can't say that about every director. The lead in this film, Sean Gullette, is excellent, as is the rest of the cast. I really liked the camera work and LOVED the soundtrack with the creepy noises throughout. The story, how everything in the universe can be explained by mathematics was intriguing. I really enjoyed the film and would watch it again. Expand
  6. Jul 16, 2011
    6
    High contrast black and white film, effective and innovative camerawork, and well done editing make Pi an enjoyable experience. The plot, the barely connected math terms, the mediocre acting, and (at times) laughable dialogue take off some major points for the promising director Aronofsky.
  7. Nov 7, 2010
    9
    Pi has an strange and stressful atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, this is an unique accomplishment done only by Aronosky. He has the ability to maintain us worried all the time during almost all the movie. Here, we can see his first famous hip-hop montage and the use of the snorricam. Flirting with cyberpunk over moments, Pi combines thriller with religious and cosmic themes and thePi has an strange and stressful atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, this is an unique accomplishment done only by Aronosky. He has the ability to maintain us worried all the time during almost all the movie. Here, we can see his first famous hip-hop montage and the use of the snorricam. Flirting with cyberpunk over moments, Pi combines thriller with religious and cosmic themes and the dangerous outcome if discovered by a sole individual. Shot in black and white and with an intense score by Mansell, Pi is really an excellent piece of art. Expand
  8. Oct 6, 2010
    3
    A low budget film shot in grainy,melancholy black and white with international implications to do with the stock market? It simply does not work for me. The religious element as well? This film went straight over my head!
  9. AmanA.
    Mar 15, 2007
    8
    Interesting and thought provoking movie... slightly disturbing.. but a fun watch.
  10. DanielC.
    Jul 11, 2006
    10
    Confusing Plot? Maybe, but repeat viewings are very enjoyable. The sound effects and the drum & bass soundtrack are completely awesome. The filming was so very well done. Utterly unique. We see the simplicity of the circle and the maddening complexity of Pi - 3.141 off in to infinity.
  11. SaTaN
    Jul 8, 2006
    10
    I love this movie! It is truly a work of art.
  12. JonhF.
    Mar 17, 2006
    8
    Very good movie. The script was well written and complex, and made this a very insightful character study. The acting was solid, and the directing was, well, gritty, but I mean that in a good way.
  13. DylanB.
    Feb 8, 2006
    8
    This a most entertaining and dynamic film, beautifully use of chairoscuro lighting in the shots with a plot which commands ones interest throughout! Though I find in places that it is poorly researched and contains minor flaws in factuality, causality and continuity.
  14. ErwinK.
    Dec 13, 2005
    2
    I found this movie thouroughly pretentious in its black and white photography and pseudo-cyber-punk babble. But worse was the fact that it had zero plot or story behind it, which totally bored me. Also coming from a maths background, I would have liked to know more about this pi number and how it related to the way the world works. The epiphonies the main character went through meant I found this movie thouroughly pretentious in its black and white photography and pseudo-cyber-punk babble. But worse was the fact that it had zero plot or story behind it, which totally bored me. Also coming from a maths background, I would have liked to know more about this pi number and how it related to the way the world works. The epiphonies the main character went through meant nothing for me. It was all this prentious drivel of staring at the spiral in a sea shell, and all this idiotic Jewish symbolism. Totally random, jarring, and irritating. In "the making of" bit I couldn't believe the film makers brainstormed 8 months(!) to come up with the script. Expand
  15. BenA.
    Mar 5, 2004
    5
    This movie is overrated. Not bad, but overratted. It went in unfortunate directions. Arinofsky made some disagreeable decisions.
  16. NinjaMafia
    Feb 16, 2004
    9
    Smart, clever, disturbing. All are words that can define this modern day classic of chaos. A math genius has spent years upon years of trying to find a pattern in the stock market. However, corrupt journalists, and a psycopathic cult want him for their own needs. The journalists want the stock market pattern so that they could have ultimate power over it. The cult, while not so much of a Smart, clever, disturbing. All are words that can define this modern day classic of chaos. A math genius has spent years upon years of trying to find a pattern in the stock market. However, corrupt journalists, and a psycopathic cult want him for their own needs. The journalists want the stock market pattern so that they could have ultimate power over it. The cult, while not so much of a cult as a crazed jewish following, beleive that he can find out Gods true name. The film was brialliantly shot in black and white. Although, there were some scenes that were extremely confusing because of the constant rocking camera. The ending is shocking. I would be skeptical if people didn't do this in his situation. Not a perfect film by all means. There were some things that were too confusing and probably would take repeated viewings to undersatnd. Overall, this movie seems to be extremely underated and must be seen by all who can stand a confusing plot. Expand
  17. RegisteredIndependentJoel
    Sep 26, 2003
    9
    Smart, edgy, paranoid and interesting, unlike any other movie I've ever seen. The ending is a bit of a letdown, which is the only reason I don't give it a 10. Highly recommended.
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 1 out of 23
  1. Reviewed by: Bruce Diones
    70
    Aronofsky's delirious, Kafkaesque writing and imaginatively distorted camerawork don't quite add up, but it's fascinating, hallucinogenic film work.
  2. 60
    In the end, it's primarily a brain teaser, obtuse and ultimately limited in its emotional impact.
  3. It is a brilliant intellectual adventure that fans of bold independent filmmaking will want to experience, even though the ending is something of a letdown.