Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cinematography: Matthew Libatique
Music: Clint Mansell
Leo McHugh Carroll
Aronofsky’s long-waited follow-up after BLACK SWAN (2010) is a re-enactment of biblically inspired story of Noah’s ark, NOAH is a spectacular visual stunt spiked with Aronofsky’s atheist re-construction of a life-or-death conflict between God’s will and humanity.
Being an agnostic myself, I never read Bible, so there is no religious transgression in my framework, the hub of the story is a simple allegory of a battling conscience, as the protagonists in other Aronofsky’s films, BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER (2008), THE FOUNTAIN (2006), Noah (Crowe) is also facing a difficult task, his firm determination is only foiled at the very last moment, although we all can predict his act, since otherwise it is plainly too pessimistic for a mainstream picture. But here is another problematic theory, if the story is true, being genetically-conscious, we are all from the same lineage of an incestuous family (the only sperm donors for the twin girls are either Noah’s other sons or some cousins from their mother side), so the human stains are innate in our bloodline, we are destined to carry our impaired blood forever, from a long run, the cleanse of mankind by the deluge is pointless, if God does want a fresh start, the minimum he could do is to cherry-pick a bunch of good-hearted families instead of only Noah’s family, otherwise, Noah is right, God’s intention is to erase the human race completely.
After receiving God’s message, Noah brings his entire family to the Watchers’ territory (their incarnation as rock monsters is too video-generated and preposterous), where he discusses his task with his grandfather Methuselah (Hopkins), a senior sage who gives Noah a seed from Eden, besides his sorcery prowess is very crucial for the following story.
The only outsider in the family is Ila (Watson), a young girl saved by the family and is barren because of her wound, Ila and Noah’s oldest son Shem (Booth) are childhood sweetheart, but Ham (Lerman), Noah’s second son, is distraught with no female counterpart is his life. While Noah’s family and the Watchers are building the ark, the spectacle arrives with animals and humans led by Tubal-cain (Winstone).
Things will further instigate Ham’s hatred towards Noah and after a formidable battle to debar his own kind from embarking on the ark, the deluge turns up just on time, only Tubal-cain sneaks into the ark, others are all perished. In the ark, Noah is infuriated to learn Ila is pregnant, thanks to a request to Methuselah from Naameh (Connelly), Noah’s wife. He will not allow any reproduction in the new world, a familial strife will deteriorate into bloody violence (with the ambush of Tubal-cain and his scheme to turn Ham against his own father).
Crowe is back treading the boards to mould a more complicated character than we assume, Noah is never a benevolent character, he has the gut to leave thousands dying under his gaze and in the second half, he almost morphs into a villain, bigoted and possessed with his task, he is murderous and only innocent souls can save him from his possession. Also he suffers from survivor’s guilt, Crowe’s trademark brooding glower has found a right place to exhibit. Connelly, is at her wheelhouse to play a relentless and loyal wife stands by her husband, but an emotional charge for her to challenge Noah’s decision is fervently emitted, a mother’s nature is the most powerful weapon. Winstone is straightforwardly typecast with his menacing aura and Lerman, excels in discharging his scornful vacillation in the game, saves the suspense in the climax, Watson and Booth make a rather cute couple, and Hopkins is either freewheeling in his berry-hunting outing, or rendering wisdom with his occult magic.
On a whole, NOAH is a successfully engaging film, but under the belt of Aronofsky, it seems a big-budgeted saga is not his strongest suit, the animal menagerie and deluge extravaganza are neither substantially eye-opening or awe-inspiring (honestly speaking, THE FOUNTAIN is far more impressive), but he surely masters in delineating the inner-struggle of an individual and thrusting the contradiction into a cinematic scenario to let it ferment, and it always leaves indelible pizzazz.