One of the reasons why I like watching speculative fiction films is that they are often not afraid to be different. I wouldn’t say that Pi is speculative fiction, but it is certainly one of the most unique films that I have seen.
The film is by Darren Aronofsky, who has made a lot interesting films over the years. I have not seen Requiem for a Dream, which I believe is a classic of the drug culture. I couldn’t make sense of The Fountain, but I think it was some commentary on immortality, maybe. The Wrestler is a very interesting character-driven drama that I found enjoyable enough to watch again, and I found Black Swan an interesting study in jealousy and madness. He is currently filming Noah with Russell Crowe as the title character, but who knows how accurate that will be in comparison to that Bible mini-series that I haven’t written about and probably won’t write about.
Pi is unusual in so many ways. First, it is black and white. I have seen some interesting films where black in white worked for them like Clerks, Schindler’s List, and most recently, The Artist. I’m not certain whether or not the director intended this film to be monochromatic, but it would be certainly less freaky in color.
I am assuming that the director wanted this film to be so different, that he probably wants me to type it like the Greek letter. This film is a lot like its numerical namesake in that it is irrational.
Pi is about a mathematical genius named Maximillian Cohen, who lives by himself in a crummy apartment and has a huge computer for constantly crunching numbers. It doesn’t look like he has any job, but he is looking into the stock market, so maybe he’s getting funding from somewhere. As with a lot of things, much of Max’s past is hardly discussed, except that he tried to look at the sun when he was a boy.
Anyway, Max’s computer breaks down, due to an ant infestation or something. This computer produces numeric values that seem to make order out of chaos, and Max realizes that he may have, unintentionally or intentionally, discovered the secret of the universe.
Max then starts to see some weird things like brains in the subway floor or the sink. Yes, this is gross, and yes, I don’t have a real explanation. Max is taking drugs and sees things that seem paranoid, and I am not honestly certain what is real in this film.
Perhaps the whole point of the film is boundary between genius and madness, something that was done by the aforementioned Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I thought that film handled schizophrenia in a very mainstream way, but Pi goes out of its way to not be mainstream and I can’t help but appreciate that. I wouldn’t say that I was riveted to this film, but I did want to see it through to its very end in spite of the disturbing imagery. I appreciate the director’s vision of his films, and it was enough to keep Pi alive despite a budget of $60,000.