Monday, 28 April 2014
Darren Aronofsky follows up Black Swan with what else but a massive Biblical fantasy epic. Because why the shit not, right?
You're probably familiar with the basics of the Noah story: dude gets a heads-up from the Almighty that the world is going to get a watery reboot because man is buggering everything up. God tells dude to build an old old wooden ship big enough to hold two of EVERY SPECIES OF ANIMAL ON THE PLANET to save them from his liquid genocide. Crazy people the world over think this actually happened.
Apparently Darren Aronofsky is not one of those people, as this film firmly embraces the magical, mystical, mythological elements of the story, introducing us to massive rock monsters (notably absent from all promotional material, presumably to keep the true wacky nature of the film from the lucrative christian audience), flaming swords, a glowing Adam and Eve and all kinds of outlandish fantasy imagery. And the film is all the better for it.
Aronofsky approaches these peculiar subjects with an admirably straight face, creating a moody, surprisingly dark and violent film amongst all the bizarre spectacle.
Rusty Crowes is excellent as Noah, embodying the grim determination, familial tenderness and existential confusion you would expect from a man who's in on God's apocalypse plan. He's ably supported by Jennifer Connelly as his stalwart wife - all poise and grace and reason and aging like a damn fine wine - and former Wallflowers Logan Lerman and Emma Watson - both doing arguably their best work and, in Lerman's case, being the best thing in the movie. Lerman plays Noah's hilariously named son, Ham, as a bundle of earnest befuddlement at the world and his father's heavenly mission, and his attempts to come to terms with their future, or lack of, is handled magnificently by the former Percy Jackson.
And people running through the woods shouting "HAM!" never gets old.
Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins crop up as a representative of man's punishable inhumanity and a genial Ben Kenobi-type Methuselah, respectively, and both are fine if familiar in their roles.
The whole bizarre thing is held together by Clint Mansell's propulsive and rousing score, teasing out emotion even when the characters become increasingly distant and lacking in empathy, and by Aronofsky's uncompromising visual style. He's not afraid to undercut a retelling of the creation myth with the entire history of evolution in fast-forward, and you have to admire the stones that takes.
The whole thing is probably about an hour too long and - Hopkins' mild comic relief aside - is relentlessly dour. But perhaps that's the only way to tell a story about God drowning the human race like an unwanted puppy in a sack.
Noah will probably sit most comfortably alongside The Fountain on the Aronofsky shelf. A spectacular, skilful, well acted bit of bizarre business which is more of a fascinating curiosity than a entertaining movie experience.
Oh, and some of the CGI animals look like shit.
But the Fallen Angel Rock Monsters are cool.