If you’re a fan of Director Darren Aronofsky, then it may or may not have been a shock to learn that his latest project would be an epic retelling of the Biblical story of Noah and The Ark. On one hand, he made the vastly underrated film The Fountain, which dabbles in it’s own religious themes. But then on the other hand, he’s also responsible for films like Requiem For A Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. Films that, by all accounts, are extremely dark Character Studies all dealing with Obsession. A theme that Aronofsky really seems to be, pun slightly intended, obsessed with. Despite it’s biblical nature, Noah is no different than any of Aronofsky’s previous film’s.
The film revolves around Noah’s (Russel Crowe) message that is received by The Creator, in which mankind will be destroyed by a devastating flood due to it’s inability to take care of each other. Noah must build an Arc to save every species of Animals, since they were the only creations still living the way that they did in the Garden of Eden. But of course, this is a story I probably don’t have to explain any further, because everyone should have heard it multiple times as a kid. Don’t be fooled though, this is not a Sunday School film, and is absolutely not a film to take the entire family too.
What I found most interesting about Aronofsky’s take on the story of Noah was the stripping of the actual Ark storyline. Sure, he builds the Ark, and the animals come, but the film is deep down about Man’s obsession (there’s that word again) with faith as well as Man’s failure. Noah is so set in his ways so as not to disappoint The Creator, that upon the arrival of The Great Flood, there’s a lengthy scene where he forces his family to listen to the thousands of cries for help as everyone around them dies in the flood, for if he saved a single soul, The Creator would view Noah as a failure.
At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve also got Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) who refuses to accept that any salvation comes with the building of a boat. In his eyes, mankind is alone and empty and the only thing left is to destroy each other. As the flood hits, Tubal-cain leads his massive army to the boat, only to be met by Noah’s personal army of Rock Warriors named “The Watchers”. It’s probably the biggest metaphor for “Good vs. Evil” in the entire film, but it’s a damn fun one to watch.
Towards the third act, the film does tend to lose steam a little bit, and could have stood to have maybe twenty minutes trimmed from it. Ultimately, it was pretty fun to see Noah descend into madness from trying to follow his mission. As Noah’s Great-Great Grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) has gone against the wishes of The Creator and healed the Barren Ila (Emma Watson) so that Noah’s son Shem (Douglas Booth) can start a family, Noah absolutely loses his shit. All of which results in a fun descent towards chaos that nearly led a family behind me to get up and walk out of the film.
Overall, this might not be Darren Aronofsky’s best film, but it is certainly going to be the more entertaining and visually arresting Biblically themed film this upcoming Easter weekend. Despite some heavy eye-roll inducing bouts of heavy handed symbolism (a dove flying past the Arc with a leaf in it’s mouth, and pretty much the entire last 60 seconds of the film), Noah was an entertaining film led by Matthew Libatique’s stunning cinematography that works better as a violent work of fiction, rather than viewed at as a Church Lesson for the kids.
I give Noah a 3.75 out 5.
By Richard Pepper