Russell Crowe returns to our screens this week with a role of biblical proportions in Darren Aronofsky’s take on one of the most widely known stories ever written. Lifted from the pages of the book of genesis in the bible, Noah follows the life of an ordinary man, plagued by visions of an impending apocalypse. Resolving to discover his purpose in the world and to test the strength of his faith, Noah (Crowe at his charismatic best) undertakes to build an Ark; a project necessary to save all creatures great & small from extinction, as the signs of a great and terrifying flood seem to strengthen every day.
Aronofsky’s vision tackles the story on the grandest scale imaginable, with Crowe’s titular man of faith anchoring a bizarre, yet never boring, ambitious project dotted with flourishes of genius. Be warned though; anyone anticipating a by-the-good-book, traditionalist telling of the original ancient bible tale may be disappointed by some of the more fantastical elements contained within, but there’s no denying the sheer maddening entertainment of it all.
Crowe is magnificent in the role, staunch and determined that there is guidance and a greater force at work with his visions. His journey, and that of his families, is the heart of the movie as he sets out to fulfil his destiny and complete The Ark. Spurred on by his dreams of a horrifying and all-consuming flood, his quest is not only a race against time, but a fight against wrath of other men.
The supporting cast all serve to highlight different aspects of the theme of the tale; His wife, Naameh (Connelly), sees an opportunity to re-seed the planet with a race of good, pious people who live in harmony with their surroundings. His nemesis, Tubal-cain (Winstone), believes in man’s dominance over nature and the weak. While they are mostly well rounded out characters, some of the chemistry is off between them and the dialogue at times borders on the clumsy and awkward.
Where Noah truly excels though is in the jaw dropping visual style and it is littered with beautiful quieter moments, none more so than the Aronofsky’s illustration of the birth of the universe, the galaxies, the stars. Narrated by Noah, he accelerates through Earth’s formation, the beginning of life and the evolution of organisms from bacteria to men. The sequence is wondrous, imaginative and awe-inspiring, and one of many of the biblical elements that Aronofsky nails perfectly.
Regardless of your beliefs, Noah delivers an epic, complex and at times brutal vision of a man’s conviction to follow his own. Whether you end up hating it or loving it will depend on your ability to go in with an open mind. Blockbusters of this scale rarely marry brave and creative filmmaking as well as Noah does and for that alone it deserves praise from on high.
(Images courtesy IMDb, Collider, Tumblr)