Darren Aronofsky's blockbuster bible-story is compellingly weird and occasionally wonderful to behold
2014 box-office hit Son of God was a straight-faced version of the Jesus story that Christian audiences lapped up, but letting a maverick like Darren Aronofsky loose on the story of Noah was always likely to create a controversy of biblical proportions. This isn’t any Sunday school tale of the ark; Aronofsky kicks things off with the giant Watchers, gigantic stone angels which look like Transformers. This is clearly the bible filtered through Aronofsky’s fertile imagination: his Noah believes that God intends the flood as a human genocide which will leave innocent animals rather than humans to repopulate the earth.
Russell Crowe certainly gives it all he’s got as Noah, a troubled vegan who has visions of an aquatic apocalypse that will wipe out mankind. He gathers together wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), sons Ham, Shem and Japheth (Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Leo McHugh Carroll) and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson) while the Watchers construct a curiously flat looking ark. As the CGI animals queue up, local thug Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) takes an interest, and leads his men to confront Noah before the apocalypse comes.
After the tight, personal dramas of The Wrestler and Black Swan, Aronofsky clearly relishes the opportunity of spectacle, and renders Noah’s story in idiosyncratic style. Noah’s visions of the snake that sheds its skin symbolically represent man shedding his sin, and once the ship has sailed, Aronofsky crafts an intense conflict between Noah and his family; his desire to have a fresh new world free from human interference forecasts a less-than-fruitful future for them.
Despite a weak ending, Aronofsky’s return to hardcore Old Testament morality is refreshingly out of step with modern religious trends; his feverish re-imagining may enrage many, but his bible-story is compellingly weird and occasionally wonderful to behold.
General release from Fri 4 Apr.