tue 21/11/2017

Noah | reviews, news & interviews

Noah

Noah

Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic couldn’t be better timed

Russell Crowe builds it and they will come, two by two in Aronofsky's Noah

Darren Aronofsky has made some of the most innovative and daring films that have ever been misunderstood. From Pi to Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler and Black Swan, his films have something to delight and upset everyone. That is as it should be – and Noah, his latest, is no exception.

Noah (Russell Crowe) is an action man – a father and eco-warrior, a man of God’s word and his own, a protector of animals and a destroyer of men. Much has been written already that it revisits themes seen in The Fountain – a film that young men are more likely to love and weep while watching. But is Noah entertaining and does it actually say anything?

At $130 million plus, it had better. Happily, its message of saving the earth from human greed couldn’t be more appropriate than now, after record pollution and universal recognition of human-caused climate change. But this is a religious epic far from Charlton Heston. Crowe is brawny and beefy, with an obedient wife (Jennifer Connolly) and a wisenheimer father (Methuselah played by Anthony Hopkins). Sons Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth) and orphaned girl Ila who becomes part of the family (Emma Watson in a pivotal role) are a smart, questioning brood. Told by God in visual clues that a mighty storm will destroy the earth, Noah finds he must build a large floating warehouse.

Tones of heavy metals, sodden skies and darkness are used both by fearless Aronofsky stalwart, cinematographer Matthew Libatique and in Clint Mansell’s bombastic soundtrack. From the miserable damp emerges Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) to threaten the Big Plan.

Compared to an early script, relationships and character development have been noticeably altered to err on the side of action. Too, The Watchers – heavenly spirits punished by God on Earth to lumber not as light but stone - were not originally meant to be these Ray Harryhausen rock creations lit from within. Voiced by Frank Langella, Mark Margolis and Nick Nolte, that The Watchers themselves craft the ark is a bit of a cheat, but after all, we only have 138 minutes. Production designer Mark Friedberg built the ship to the genuine Biblical dimensions in New York. Although CGI is not good - there is plenty of "uncanny valley" going on here that jars the viewer who wants to be immersed in the story - it is still a bit of a wow to see all the animals, birds and reptiles swarm to Noah's project. (Spoiler alert: expect at least one species to be ruined by the dirty, Cockney Tubal-cain, representing human awfulness.)

This is a film with enough background intelligence to stir controversy within the Christian community as well as those acquainted with the Midrash and the Talmud. Either way, Aronofsky is perhaps the only American director/writer working today with the kind of creative clout to even attempt to justify differences between Bible and science, evolution and creation. Above everything else, Noah will make you think.

Overleaf: watch the trailer to Noah

From Pi to Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler and Black Swan, his films have something to delight and upset everyone

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Noah co-stars Jennifer Connelly, whose mother is Jewish, and Logan Lerman, who is 100% Jewish. This is a good contrast to the other upcoming biblical movie, Exodus, which has no Jews in it at all.

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