Noah is a crazily ambitious tale of spirituality and artistic vision. Telling the tale of Noah and his ark while simultaneously crafting a story about man’s destruction of nature and corruption of self, Darren Aronofsky balances science and faith in an imperfectly effective way. The story focuses on Noah (Russell Crowe) and his visions from God that tell him he must save all of the animals and prepare for the destruction of everything that inhabits Earth. Everyone expects him to see fire scorching the soil and the Earth burning, but Noah sees people drowned and realizes that a flood is imminent. Along with his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), his sons Ham (Logan Lerman) and Shem (Douglas Booth), and their adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson), they build the ark with the help of the Watchers, fallen angels who are mostly enclosed in rocks and have immense strength. He won’t do any of this without a challenge, though, as Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) and the rest of his uncivilized, animal-eating men attempt to storm the ark and earn entry even if they do not deserve it. They claim they have followed His path because He put animals on this Earth for men to conquer, but Noah sees them as impure and continues to believe that God has given him the right mission and message.
If this doesn’t sound like a Darren Aronofsky film, that’s because it’s more in the film’s style and second half that his thematic vision truly emerges. There’s no denying that this is a flawed picture. Yet the vision always remains that Noah is embattled within about following God’s word without much sign of hope, and the destruction of his family will come from his madness. Russell Crowe’s performance is a career best, understanding the complexities of his character lie within his actions and words; Jennifer Connelly, on the other hand, has a character that mostly relies on emotional outbursts. They are effective, and her performance is strong, but the female characters here rely on irrational emotions to define their characters. Watson and Lerman are good in their supporting roles, and Anthony Hopkins is strangely compelling. Where this film strays from the biblical tale is not up to my assessment; I can almost guarantee that the beautiful sequence where Noah describes the beginning of life and shows science and evolution was not in the Bible. But the film’s ambitious in scope and wonderfully directed by Aronofsky, and I feel that multiple viewings will reward both the religious and the doubters.
Grade: ★★★★ (out of 5)