Pythagoras was one of the first to posit that numbers underlie the meaning of the universe. Since then, ambitious souls have sought a theory of everything in numerology. This debut film by writer and director Darren Aronofsky, shot in black and white, delves into this quest. It is recommended only for the most adventuresome filmgoer given its arcane subject matter and its claustrophobic feel.

Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is a math genius who lives alone and is obsessed with unlocking the chaos of the stock market by decoding the numerical pattern that holds it all together. Marcy Dawson (Pamela Hart) of a New York brokerage firm and Lenny Meyer (Ben Shenkman), a member of a Hasidic Kabbalah sect, are both very interested in Max's quest, but the only person he has time for is his teacher and mentor (Mark Margolis).

Even though it depicts Max as quite an unappealing character given his paranoia and his lurching back and forth between messianic zeal and self-disgust, this unusual film does manage to deliver some thought-provoking questions about our digital age, numerology, and the hubris involved in all projects designed to decode the mystery of the universe.