Film review: Noah

Burden, diligence, love, the human condition… and a lot of water

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

Image courtesy Paramount Pictures

Image courtesy Paramount Pictures

In the beginning, there was nothing. Then God said, “let there be light,” and there was light, and it was good.

In the newest filmmaking adventure by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream), the biblical tale of the great flood is re-examined in a stark contrast to the traditional version we’ve all come to know. This dark and gritty examination of the story hits on many levels, and despite the somewhat ridiculous premise, puts the audience in the place and time being imagined by the filmmakers relatively successfully.

Blending breath-taking special effects with some interesting new cinematography (there’s a kind of “stop-motion, time-lapse-of-evolution scene” in the middle that I really liked) with fantastic acting performances and a subtle, understated but poignant soundtrack, Aronofsky has outdone himself with this reimagining of one of the best known tales of all time.

Don't be surprised if Jennifer Connelly's name is on a few lists next awards season for her performance as Naameh, Noah's Wife, according to this reviewer. Image courtesy Paramount Pictures

Don’t be surprised if Jennifer Connelly’s name is on a few lists next awards season for her performance as Naameh, Noah’s Wife, according to this reviewer. Image courtesy Paramount Pictures

Speaking of amazing acting, Jennifer Connelly is some kind of actress, man. Reuniting with Aronofsky for the first time since 2000’s Requiem for a Dream, Connelly turns in possibly her best performance, and that’s really saying something, considering she won an Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role for 2001’s A Beautiful Mind – coincidentally starring alongside Russell Crowe, who plays the lead of Noah in this new effort. Don’t be surprised if Connelly gets shortlisted a few times next awards season for her portrayal of Naameh (Noah’s wife) – powerful stuff.

I’m certainly not going to go through the plot of the film. You know the plot of the film.

What I will say is bravo to Aronofsky and his fellow filmmakers for not having some kind of disembodied voice – or even worse, an actual person playing the role of God – and instead letting Crowe’s performance of reacting to visions and dreams and interpreting them for the audience do the trick in terms of his messages from the Almighty.

Random piece of advice: Sit closer to the back than I did. I got there with only a couple of film trailers left before the movie started (and on opening weekend) and some of the camera work might leave you feeling a bit queasy if your right up close to it. I mean, there are 4,734 mammals getting on that boat (I counted) and then there’s all the birds and reptiles, too. Those scenes – as well as the one where a forest pops up out of the barren landscape – can be a bit visually overwhelming.

Long story short, you should probably see this film. It’s an excellent new vision of a tried and tested story. It has enough interesting magical bits to take the edge off your disbelief at the situation but not so many to make you think they’re all supposed to actually be wizards and you missed that part in the introduction/lead-in. It’s also beautifully acted and shot.

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