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Customer Review

43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant film from a young cast and crew., 12 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: PI [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Darren Aronofsky's first feature is a stunning debut feature and a testament to a formidable young talent. The central character of the film is Maximillian Cohen, played by Sean Gullete, a obsessive and brilliant mathematician and his search for a mathematical pattern in the stock exchange. Don't be put off by this though, as there is very little raw maths in the film, and the little there is I actually found quite interesting. Instead, the film focuses on Cohen's descent into madness and paranoia as the result of an `accident' when he was a child, which (cliche, I know) appears to have caused his talent for mathematics, and the gangster types who are pursuing him for the secret concerning the stock exchange respectively. The film builds up the tension to an unbearably level before the shocking yet perfectly fitting climax.
Helped by a literate and well-researched script, co-written by the director and Eric Watson, as well as a strong and highly-developed central performance from Gullete, Aronofsky has built a claustrophobic, visually intense and innovative thriller. Shot entirely in grainy black and white and reminiscent of David Lynch's own halucinogenic debut feature `Eraserhead', as well as the films of Kubrick and Hitchcock, elements of this film have already had an influence on several directors, most notably Christopher Nolan. Superbly confident for such a young director, Aronofsky is not afraid to repeat himself and uses several recurring visual and aural motifs and segments of film in the manner of a great composer to enhance the insanity of the experience. Every frame is packed with stark imagery and an unmistakable ambience and his use of the camera and of sound to draw the viewer into the mind of Cohen is brilliant. At several points I started to think that it was going to sen me mad, and at one point I had to switch the DVD off for a few minutes and take a break. Not one for the faint-hearted. The thunping electronic soundtrack, provided by the likes of Orbital, Roni Size, Aphex Twin and Massive Attack, is inspired and perfectly fitting.
The extras on the DVD are some of the best I've seen, including my favourite on any disc, deleted scenes. The music video, `PiR squared', captures the feel of the film brilliantly in just under 3 minutes and the trailers are also very good. The obligatory `Behind the Scenes' documentary, complete with voice-over from Aronofsky and Gullete, happily doesn't take itself too seriously. It doesn't aspire to give an `insight into the creative process' so common in these affairs, nor does it become outrageously sycophantic, another common annoyance. It is essentially a light-hearted affair (and the narrators know it), a welcome break after watching the film, with the cast and crew clowning about backstage, although the little in-jokes begin to grate after a while. The director's commentary is very good, and gives an insight into film-making on a budget, and Sean Gullete's commentary is also very good.
In short a worthy winner of the Director's Award at the Sundance festival and a worthy addition to any Film lover's collection.
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