Review: Noah

I’ve always believed that in cinema, ambition must be celebrated – outsized ambition, especially so. That stance is being challenged like never before with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The filmmaker’s previous works have all demonstrated affection for the more operatic modes of filmic storytelling, and that carried me through 2006’s The Fountain, which counts as an interesting failure. After reigning things in a little with The Wrestler and Black Swan, Aronofsky is back in his gargantuan sand box for Noah, and unlike The Fountain, there’s never any sense that his vision has been compromised.

It makes it all the more disappointing that the new work is so consistently befuddling. A pseudo-Biblical epic that employs generic terminology seemingly in an effort to not alienate secular audiences, Noah features plenty of big moments and impressive visual beats, but ultimately fails to cohere.

Character-wise, the film focuses on Noah’s arc (sorry) as a follower of ‘The Creator’ whose devotion is greatly tested. Crowe’s cinematic presence remains powerful, but the actor’s jerkiness shines through the screen. I try to overlook actors’ private lives when watching movies, but in the realm of grumpy Hollywood stars, he manages to make Harrison Ford seem cheery.

Aronofsky seems uninterested in the animals beyond a few cheaply-rendered ‘crowd’ shots, but there are other visual wonders to behold, not least of which is a group of Jim Henson-ish rock monster things called ‘Watchers’. But visual splendour can only carry a film so far. That’s not to say this is an empty film, it’s just that its meat is filled with gristle that is hard to bite through.

Aronofsky’s stated attempts to set this story in an ambiguous time and place amount to very little – this is Old Testament wrath all the way, and there’s no mistaking it. There may be no faulting Aronofsky’s ambition, but the finished product is another story altogether.

‘Noah’ Movie Times