Before I go into this review, I must let any reader know that I have some bias towards the film being a christian. Specifically a Catholic and the controversial audience response to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is troubling to say the least. Audiences complained that it wasn’t faithful to the bible’s story and that it made the story seem to be a fantasy/sci-fi film. While some of those elements are true, the real story of Noah isn’t building the ark. Rather it’s about the character’s ability to truly perform the task he’s command with and his emotional response of dealing with the situation. Aronofsky explores the idea of how do we determine who is good.
The Descendants of Cain have dominated the Earth and have turned God’s beautiful land into a place of sin and evil. Noah (Russell Crowe), a descendent of Seth (the third child of Adam & Eve), is shown in visions that the earth will be flooded, cleansing the earth of evil. Noah realizes that he, along with his family and the animals, have to build an ark before the flood.
The one thing I have to say about the film is that it’s beautiful. The film is gorgeously shot and the cinematography is great. The film’s visual effects are used to great effect and show that Aronofsky can work on other possible big budget films with great effect. Yet the reason why I love Aronofsky’s films are because of how he dives into his protagonist and show the audience in a depressing, saddening manner how they’d respond. In the examples of Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler each protagonist is shown going through a truly disturbing setting and the ending can be either uplifting, bittersweet or disturbing as hell.
In Noah, Aronofsky doesn’t go to the lengths he does in previous films, but it feels right. Noah is constantly questions why was he selected for this task. The film explores how far Noah is willing to go with this idea and believes himself to be strong enough to perform them. If you go in expecting the word for word adaption from the Bible, you’ll be damn disappointed then. If you go into this film expecting a post-apocalyptic fantasy film about a protagonist struggling to figure out who is truly good, then you’ll enjoy the film.
The cast is fantastic, specifically Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. Crowe balances his character with perfection as a even-kiel man that sometimes boards craziness. Noah is genuinely a good man with a good heart and Crowe plays him as that. Noah never means harm but he struggles with his humanity. He’s a servant for God but doesn’t know if he can do everything he is tasked with. Connelly is Noah’s wife in the film, and provides a voice of reason during the 2nd half of the film. Connelly provides a good human touch for the film and gives it heart at certain points of the film. Logan Lerman, who plays Noah’s son Ham, is good at times as the son who desperately wants a wife. Sometimes during the film I felt for him, and at others it got a little sappy that he only cared about himself. I understood he wanted a wife but he nearly went too far at times.
All in all, Noah is a visually stunning spectacle that features a deep examination of who is truly good through the eyes of our protagonist. The film looks beautiful and the cast is fantastic. At times the film can feel a bit long and drawn out, but the film’s last act is worth it. The film isn’t as good as previous Aronofsky films, but it still a damn good movie.