NOAH

Noah-poster-405x600If you are going to make a movie about NOAH then why are you so afraid of saying the word God. Darren Aronofsky’s telling of the tale of the biblical flood does a fine job of recounting the story. He has the advantage of pretty much everyone knowing how it goes. So any shortcomings in story development may be excused. We know how this goes, so we can fill in the blanks. Maybe that’s a really good thing. It allows the viewer his own imagination in filling in details. But from beginning to end none of the characters ever say God. The refer to the deity as “The Creator”. There’s not necessarily wrong with it. It’s just an odd choice. Maybe that’s why some Christians are not happy with this interpretation. Then there is the scene where Noah recounts the creation story. The words are a pretty standard retelling of the beginning of Genesis. The images seemed to come more from a documentary about evolution rather than a bible story. Not that I agree with any criticism directed at Aronofsky based on these choices, but I see why some may be upset. I have other quarrels. None are huge. Things like a lot of melodrama. Things like questionable casting choices. Not sure about Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife. Not sure about Emma Watson as Ila. Not sure why everyone in ancient times had to speak with a British accent. Even Connelly who is decidedly not British and sometimes her accent slips. Not sure why everyone has to be so “pretty”. Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah. That seems like a no brainer. Two things I am sure about are the talents of Russell Crowe and Ray Winstone. They are the best things in the movie. Winstone plays the King of those who are about to be wiped off the face of the Earth. He’s pompous and mean and perfect. Crowe makes this movie worth watching. He is righteous without being pious. He wrestles with his decision to kill his granddaughters like a man truly torn between family and faith. NOAH isn’t a great movie. It’s just a pretty good one. — Alan Yudman

 

Russell Crowe is that rare movie star who’s as unlikeableĀ on-screen as off, and that works to his advantage here, since he’s playing the ultimate misanthrope: a man who wants to extinguish all humanity. Crowe’s impulse is at the heart of this impressive, ridiculous, spectacular, talky, eye-dazzling hybrid — a mash-up of biblical epic, art film, and teenage romance that doesn’t quite come together, but not for lack of earnest attempt. Anyone who expected a traditionally “religious” movie a la sanctimonious crap like SON OF GOD from Darren Aronofsky must not know this is a director who goes his own way. From a handful of verses in Genesis and scattered references in other Bible chapters, he has created a meditation on sacrifice, sin and obsession that blurs the lines between God and Man. Noah’s seemingly crackpot determination to remake the future without human beings can make sense in light of all we know about how very very badly people have screwed up Creation. But the idea of washing away our sins in the tide with only “innocent” animals remaining doesn’t hold water, as it were, when it comes time for Noah to slaughter babies. (Unlike the Abraham and Isaac story, it is Noah himself who stays his hand here.) The humorlessness of Crowe’s performance is deliberate, off-putting but necessary. The other actors seem like mere pawns: as Noah’s wife Jennifer Connelly suffers, Logan Lerman does his puppydog thing as Ham, someone named Douglas Booth is a cipher as Ham’s brother Shem. Only Emma Watson cuts through the gloom, especially in one lovely moment when she realizes she’s pregnant. I’m still not sure what I thought of NOAH, which may be a tribute to its complexity. — Jeff Schultz

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