Max Cohen has a long list of mental-problems, psycho somatic, hyper-obsessiveness, severe headaches because he allegedly stared at the sun when he was young; too many to continue naming. Max is played by a taut-faced Sean Gullette to great, authentic effect. Similar to ‘Peeping Tom’, this movie has little interaction outside of Max and his mind’s manifestations.
Max wants to break the secrets of Pi and predict the stock market; he is obsessive, hallucinatory, and has very little friends, besides a seizure-stricken retired Mathematician. The man discusses during casual father-son like meetings, that approaching Math with conviction and desire for a conclusion will get to you floating towards a dead end. Indeed, the man gets the seizures from being overly-attentive to his studies, depicted in the film like a drug.
The movie is shot in black-and-white and features some powerful moments of panic. It is has some irrefutable similarities to Aronofsky’s later work ‘Requiem for a Dream’ like the sharp close-up to the cupped pill flying into the needy mouth of its target. But this is meager, it’s his own work and he has the the right to draw from it.
The movie is a stark representation of intellectual-obsession and how it can madden ones soul, albeit it
doesn’t help to be slightly mad already. The voice-over callback to ‘When I was young I stared at the sun’ is partly a signal to the audience of his troubled existence, and also his Dysfunctional Defiance Syndrome, hence wanting to crack the stock-market because he is repeatedly told he cannot.
The film is a stark, nightmarish auteur-attempt and fits the black-and-white bill as good as any modern film can. The end scene fades, like the final scenes of Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’, with a gloom of ambiguous prosperity and heaven, a long needed escape from needing so erratically to know.