Monday, 14 April 2014

Review: Noah

Year: 2014
Director: Darren Aronosfsky 
Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman

Synopsis is IN THE BIBLE

I found Noah to be a dreary experience. Many fellow writers managed to gain something out of its more unhinged qualities; I needed more than the films deranged tone to keep my interest levels up. I do not consider it bonkers because it’s a religious text. For instance, the screenplay wisely eliminates problematic elements such as Noah’s age (in the Bible he nears 1000 at time of death) to level things out slightly. The film however, suffers from a troublesome tone throughout which is always hard to ground. Noah as a whole feels fantasy-lite, almost placing it in the same realm as Aronofsky’s equally barmy, but far more entertaining Black Swan.

Aronofsky has stated that Russell Crowe was cast to give the film the type of grounding a film such as this sorely needs. Crowe struggles with this and not due to his talents. This is a screenplay that flies into full The Shining mode during the last act of the film. Aronofsky’s adaptation of the text is clearly written with the audience in mind. Here Noah’s inner conflict stems from how he interprets his Lord’s message. If God (named The Creator in the film) wishes to end the wicked world of Man, does that include Noah and his kin?  Like Aronofsky’s earlier works (Pi, Black Swan, Requim for a Dream) Noah is a film where the protagonist’s obsessions slowly get the better of them. It certainly fits into Aronofsky’s wheelhouse thematically. It is just far too tough to get past the film’s meandering pace, awkward time lapses and outlandish skylines. Along with its bizarre rock monster/Angels that feel like they’ve wandered off a Tolkin text.

Noah simply does not have what made The Passion of the Christ so strangely compelling. No matter how you feel about Mel Gibson and his project, his visualisation of the message (even if it’s just guilt tripping you into his faith) is stronger than what we see here. The visions expressed by the likes of Judas had more conviction and the films characters felt more authentic. To quote Kayne; I’m not here to convert atheists into believers. Nor am I siding with those with faith, looking for a fully accurate piece devoted to the original text. Noah shows its weaknesses however, not only by having Anthony Hopkins come across as an older version of Woody Harrelson character in 2012, or by the amusing miscasting of Ray Winstone. No, Noah feels it’s the right decision to under develop the role of Jennifer Connelly’s Naamah. Connelly’s soft, subtle performance is the kind of grounding Noah needs in spades. The film’s cautious view of such a character makes sure that Noah remains a cult drinking game footnote more than anything else.