Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 59 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Max Cohen, a mathematician and computer genius, finds himself pursued by Wall Street traders and a Hasidic cabal in this award-winning film.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 1 out of 23
  1. 90
    A triumph of low-end production design, shot in sizzling, solarized black and white, and driven by a propulsive, insinuating score, Pi is a horror movie that makes you think and an indie film that makes you squirm.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    It's precisely when Pi is the most arty and least "commercial," when it's serving up head scratchers instead of intrigue, that it's most entertaining.
  4. The movie's freakazoid intensity gets to you, but there's something at once cramped and show-offy in Aronofsky's refusal to even slighty vary its atmosphere of shock-corridor burnout.
  5. 75
    For anyone who wants a movie to feed their intelligence and imagination more than their eyes and ears, Pi is a solid choice.
  6. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    The film's imaginative, diverse images create a mind's-eye urban claustrophobia; such intensity may exhaust over 85 minutes' course, but it's never less than impressive.
  7. Reviewed by: Bill Boisvert
    With this odd mixture of elements the film's tone is gloomy, portentous, and hysterical, yet at the same time strangely earnest and square, as if David Lynch had tried to somehow make a movie version of Scientific American.

See all 23 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 3 out of 17
  1. Jun 12, 2014
    One of the most criminally under-appreciated films ever made. Darren Aronofsky's Pi (1998) is every bit original as it is unique. It's dark, convoluted, twisty and artistic. Most of the critics have misunderstood the genius of the film. It's a film about obsession, about order and chaos. It has nothing to do with math. It portrays with the mental transition of our protagonist wonderfully and the ending which is up for interpretation is beautiful and it's as powerful an ending as I've seen for quite 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 a gem that needs to be treasured and appreciated not dug under the soil. Why? Let's just say because it deserves it. Expand
  2. Nov 7, 2010
    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 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
  3. Sep 13, 2013
    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. Expand
  4. Jul 16, 2011
    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. Expand
  5. Jun 22, 2013
    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 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.
  6. Oct 6, 2010
    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! Expand
  7. Dec 6, 2013
    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, 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

See all 17 User Reviews