Four years after Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky returns with a film billed as a biblical epic, but is really anything but. Don’t expect a religious sermon as the visionary filmmaker transforms the widely known Old Testament story into another provocative, esoteric addition to a divisive, but no less fascinating filmography.
Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel take a filmmaker’s creative license to an entirely new level for their recreation of Noah; a film that not only seeks to challenge audiences as a modernisation of an ancient tale, but also dares to challenge the veracity and themes of the worshipped source material.
Much like the bible story, the narrative follows a righteous man who is singled out by God to save the innocent and ensure all evil is punished, but Aronofsky’s Noah focuses on the human perspective. It’s an exploration of the characters at the heart of the story and plays out as a family drama that focuses on how doing God’s bidding puts a growing strain on their relationships. It’s a bold and unique angle that draws terrific performances from a fine ensemble, but it’s turgid, slight and unable to maintain interest over such a prolonged duration.
Bombastic action set pieces, giant CGI monsters and stunning special effects are the materials Aronofsky uses to build a film that seeks to unite the two camps often divided by his films. It’s an attempt to strike a balance between grand, Hollywood spectacle and surreal epic to engage casual viewers as much as hardened veterans of this brand of cinema, sadly it fails to deliver either.
Aronofsky’s efforts aren’t successful and Noah may sink below anything he’s created before, but the courage to take on such an ambitious challenge is impressive nonetheless.