When most people think of buying a new DVD they think big soundtrack and full color reproduction. This would make this movie an unlikely candidate for purpose but what a mistake that would be. In black and white with only Dolby 2.0 sound and a mere 1:166 aspect ratio one might tend to overlook this gem. Pi is what independent films are all about. Not created to make millions at the box office but rather to tell a compelling story with a well acted script and great direction. The story follows Max, a math genius that thinks his number theory can predict the stock market. He's not in it for the money but rather the science. Max sees numbers behind all of nature. He feels that any system can be reduced to numbers, graphs and patterns can then be observed. Soon, a powerful stock broker firm is after him. Also seeking his help is a group of Kabalalistic Jews who feel that Max has stumbled onto the true name of God in a 216 digit number that keeps popping up. The action waxes and wanes but the movie grips you and keeps you watching. The film becomes grainy as Max is undecided, clearing as Max come to realize the truth of it all.
Sean Guilette is incredibly good as Max. He brings to the role a simple determination of purpose yet for all his intelligence he is almost unable to cope with the everyday aspects of life. If it wasn't for some kind neighbors he would barely be able to feed himself. In one scene a pretty young neighbor notices that Max's hair is completely unkempt. He recoils in fear as she tries to straighten it. Max is not only uncomfortable with women but people in general. Guilette brings a dispare to Max as he gulps pills to control the almost constant migraine headaches. Mark Margolis plays Max's mentor Sol. The old mathematician performs not only the main expository role in the film but offers the character of Max a kindred spirit in his love for math. The cast is almost complete composed of unknowns yet each one adds an undeniable dimension to the film.
The director of this little gem is Darren Aronofsky. Not a well know director to be sure, not even a very experienced one but a director of great talent none the less. Aronofsky's use of little aspects of film like the contrast of graininess and clarity, extreme close-ups and bizarre camera angles adds interest to the piece. Typical of many independent films Aronofsky must deal with budget limitations and difficult choices. The use of black and white and simple sound must have been among these choices but he masters the limitations and creates something special with it.
Many DVD owners may have a prejudice against films not presented in color with full 5.1 sound. This is a big mistake in cases like this. Pi takes you back to why you spent so much time and money on home theater in the first place, the art of cinema. Pi is like a charcoal drawing by an artistic master. Sure it is different form a picture alive with color but different does not equate with inferior. The medium may be different but the value of the piece is still incredible. While this DVD offers less in the technical end of the medium, it offers what a true film buff wants, a movie worth watching.