Going into Noah, I knew little about it. I knew what it’s based on, obviously, and I knew that it was directed by one of my favourite directors Darren Aronofsky, and I did know who’s in it. Honestly, though, most of my interest in seeing this film can be summed up as me being curious as to what all the Christians are so angry about.
I am not a big fan of Russell Crowe, that much I’m sure of. He’s Channing Tatum with 0,5 more personality traits, but I do ocassionally see him in good films. Is Noah one of them, or is it a film that truly warrants the anger directed towards it? Well, from someone who really loves the work of Aronofsky, I’m actually rather positive about this one.
The plot, well, I’m sure you all know it. It’s the tale of Noah’s ark, the boat that saved two of every (yes, EVERY) animal during that time God was unhappy with his own creation and decided that drowning the Earth was the best thing to do. Crowe plays Noah, Jennifer Connelly is his wife Naameh, his sons Shem and Ham are played by Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman, his youngest child Japheth is played by Leo McHugh Carroll, and his adoptive daughter Ila is played by Emma Watson. There is also Anthony Hopkins as the grandfather, an ancient hermit who wants to warn Noah of God’s impending act of wrath almost as much as he wants some berries.
Noah’s family, of course, are the only pure humans left on Earth after all others have become corrupt and violent. Because of this, God himelf tasks Noah with rescuing all animals and putting them on an ark before He cleanses the world. In the film, we find out that he is assisted in the construction, not only by his family, but also an army of fallen angels encased in rock; creatures dreaded by humans but loyal to God. I thought these were interesting beings and it helps that they are one of several ways in which Aronofsky gives his own explainations as to how Noah was able to build such a huge ark all by himself. That is, not by himself at all.
The leader of the corrupt humans is a descendant of Cain – the Cain who killed Able – named Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone). He is a villain, one with the beard of Marco from the band Nightwish, but he ends up being somewhat useless once Noah (SPOILERS, proceed with caution) sort of becomes villainous himself. He becomes convinced that God’s will is that humanity was meant do die out entirely, and when Ila becomes pregnant with the child of Shem, he vows to kill the child if it is female and therefore able to carry the seeds of humanity. There’s also a subplot involving Ham, who envies Shem and Ila’s relationship and threatens to join the enemy and side with Tubal-cain as a result of his anger and jealousy. It’s not a love triangle, thank goodness; Ham’s just a lonely chap.
The thing about Darren Aronofsky is that I’ve never been able to pin-point a recurring style within his movies. When I say names like Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton or David Fincher, most of you will probably be able to picture a certain style inside your heads. Daronofsky’s movies, however, are so starkly different from one another that you probably can’t. Black Swan was very different from The Wrestler, The Wrestler was nothing like Pi, and so on. With this movie, though, you can tell one thing for sure from the way the film looks, sounds and feels: it was clearly directed by the guy who made The Fountain. Not that it’s a bad thing; The Fountain happens to be one of my favourite movies. I just felt like pointing out that this is the first time that I’ve been able to tell who made a film when that person is Darren Aronofsky.
The music by Clint Mansell, while not as memorable as, say, Requiem for a Dream or The Fountain, still complemented the visuals and action nicely and I mostly approved of it even though it’s nothing I’ll be humming to myself. The visuals, on that note, are marvelous. There are multiple time lapse sequences and montages depicting the creation of all things, Earth changing form to help Noah build his ark, and wars of both past and future. All of it looks astounding, is shot gorgeously and makes me hope Aronofsky one day makes a sequel to Koyaanisqatsi.
The acting I enjoyed as well, particularly that of Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins. And yes, even Russell Crowe managed to pull through, especially towards the third act.
Even if Aronofsky did a fine job to justify and put some logic into aspects of it, as well as acknowledging the darker and more violent elements that most Christians stupidly choose to gloss over whilst telling it to kids, this is still a story written by people who thought that the sun orbited the Earth. As such, it might be wise not to think too hard whilst watching this. This trick doesn’t always work with movies, but Noah had just enough good stuff in it for me to approve of it in spite of whatever plot holes might still be left. I was enthralled by its visuals, its music and, yes, even the performances. The film is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but doesn’t particularly feel it. Some scenes could have been cut for the sake of pacing and time, certainly, but overall this film managed to keep me interested for its lengthy runtime.
So, what exactly are the religious people angry about? Not sure, but it could be that Aronofsky tries to portray the Noah tale in a way that actually almost makes sense, and I suppose that anything having to do with sense isn’t true to the source material. I guess the only thing more hurtful than pointing out the plot holes of one’s favourite story is trying to spackle them up.
As much as I liked the movie, though, I must agree with my brother Oscar who pointed out that Noah basically becomes an angry teenager after he eventually loses his mind aboard the ark. To quote him more precisely: “He builds himself a giant treehouse and goes NO GIRLS ALLOWED.”