Admittedly, I have never given the biblical “Noah” much thought; the ark, pairs of animals and the forty days and nights of rain (Seattle residents can relate to this) sums up my limited level of knowledge or curiosity. With no expectations I watched Darren Aronofsky’s vividly imaginative interpretation, of what many consider conjecture, myth; surprisingly, found myself “swimmingly” intrigued.
There are major flaws: digital, surreal creatures (“The Watchers”, descendants of Cain), Legos on steroids speaking in the altered voices of Frank Langella and Nick Nolte; the redundant bombardment of the Able/Cain debacle and the glossy apple/snake imagery, a ubiquitous metaphor for man’s slippage from the pedestal of perfection. Bludgeoning repetition, simply tiresome and unnecessary.
The success of “Noah” resides in Aronofsky’s license in depicting him as a man, a righteous man, not pristine; struggling to keep his family alive and untainted by Cain’s legacy. Russell Crowe, in his finest performance in years, imbues Noah with the strength and integrity of a person selected by a higher power to prepare for the erasing of mankind and the unsalvageable globe; Crowe is particularly prescient as Noah slips into an hallucinatory madness; misinterpreting the Divine dictates and succumbing to human frailties’.
Jennifer Connelly (paired again with Crowe, “A Beautiful Mind”) is stunningly magnificent as Noah’s wife “Naameh”; never mentioned by name in Genesis, Aronofsky’s manufactured product simmers with authenticity; she is the mother goddess, the voice of reason; her love for her three sons (Shem, Ham, Japheth), transcends Noah’s intractable resolve. Her beauty, fadeless, as Noah’s physiognomy reflects the angst of arc- building and struggling to prevail against the wrath of “Tubal-Cain” (delightfully wicked characterization by Ray Winstone).
Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins give provocative portrayals as Noah’s daughter-in-law (“Ila”) and grandfather (“Methuselah”).
In the beginning there was more than the “word”; there was a seismic shift, a Big Bang, a cosmological phenomena; possibly Noah’s arc and its passengers are a euphuism for creation; science, yet to precisely determine what really occurred; Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” lends credence to an ancient legend, a fable that has prevailed for thousands of years.