Noah 2014 ***

Darren Aronofsky’s biblical tale harks back to the weirder excesses of Intolerance rather than the more pious made-for tv reverence of Son of God; with huge stone monsters helping Noah to build his ark, this version of the age-old story deviates by some margin from the expected path of a religious film. Aronofsky uses the same flash-cut sequences to illustrate Noah’s dreams that he used in Requiem for a Dream, and there’s a feverish feel about the whole enterprise. Russell Crowe plays Noah as a tormented obsessive, in the manner of Richard Dreyfuss’s Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Driven by his vision of an earth under water, he ropes in his monster pals to build an ark and gathers his family, including adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). The second half of the film settles down for a sea-bound family drama, as Ila become pregnant and threatens the purity of Noah’s mission. Despite a uselessly flat ending, in which Noah’s journey is explained to him in a boringly straightforward fashion that removes the nuances from the story, Aronofsky’s epic drama is more fun than it needs to be, and benefits from a sincere performance by Crowe.


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