Movie Review: Noah
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Reviewed: 24 November 2014
Director Darren Aronofsky continues his cinematic exploration of obsession with the retelling of the biblical story of Noah (Russell Crowe), the visionary builder responsible for the survival of the earth's creatures and mankind. In an ambitious and often creative retelling of the Bible story, Aronofsky remains unafraid to put his own stamp on it, with fallen angels transformed into rock monsters and metaphysical miracles often performed by Noah's grandfather (Anthony Hopkins). A strong supporting cast of Jennifer Connelly as Noah's wife Naameh and Emma Watson as his adopted daughter Ila are given short shrift as the film touches upon how hard it would be to love a man like Noah or endure his fits of prophecy. However, Aronofsky feels mostly comfortable in building up a conflict between Noah and Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) representing mankind destined for destruction.
Aronofsky's boldness shines through this film, and the film stumbles when it tries to humanize Noah and explore his balancing of family and faith. I am not sure it all works. Crowe is his stoic, mighty best, but as far as depicting Noah's internal struggles, he fails. Does he fail because he cannot convey a character of this scope's inner dimensions? I have to say, with my unabashed admiration for Crowe, that it must be the script's fault. Aronofsky dabbles in magical realism, Anthony Hopkins, and rock-beasts, and I think that something had to give. No one else in the cast is given much to do: Winstone broods, Connelly stares, Watson cries and looks. The spectacle of the nature of the movie means that so much of it is spent waiting for the cataclysmic event. When it arrives, it does not disappoint.
Generally, I liked Noah, though I don't think it carries the day in terms of exploring its prophetic eponymous main character. No one in the cast stands out in a meaningful way, and part of me will always want more real animals, fewer CGI. Yet, I'm intrigued: Aronofsky wrestles with faith in film in a way that although less successful than his magnificent film The Fountainhead, but it reflects a genuine passion for the subject and a willingness to inject creativity and daring into some of the storytelling. From Black Swan to The Wrestler, he willing portrays characters in conflict with themselves in harrowing environments, and Noah is less successful only because he fails to make Noah as human as a disintegrating ballet dancer or a broken-down wrestler.