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This Noah is no bedtime story

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It has taken director Darren Aronofsky his entire career to date to realise his vision for the famous story of Noah and the ark – and it was worth the wait.

Aronofsky has never been shy to delve deep into the darkest depths of the human soul, as illustrated by the drug-addicted characters in Requiem for a Dream and the delusional, psychotic dancer in his Oscar-winning Black Swan.

It’s therefore not surprising that his depiction of Noah is a very gritty, dark and fantastical vision, far removed from the children’s tale with which many of us are familiar.

The film explores the internal conflict within Noah (played by Russell Crowe) and the difficult choices he has to make, knowing that the destruction of the world is imminent. As the epic disaster unfolds, there is amazing vision of the two by two animals that populate the ark and also of the creation of the universe, but the focus is largely on Noah and his dogmatic will to do the Creator’s bidding – even when it threatens to destroy not only his family, but also the future of mankind.

Aronofsky borrows from the Biblical source but also adds his own narrative, which has caused controversy among religious groups. His “artistic licence” introduces several new elements to the familiar story – including fallen angels The Watchers, who are now cursed by the Creator as stone giants, and the main antagonist, King Tubal-cain, played with much zeal by veteran British actor Ray Winstone.

There are excellent performances by the strong cast: Crowe’s Beautiful Mind co-star Jennifer Connelly plays Noah’s wife, Naameh; Anthony Hopkins takes on the delightful role of his wise but gentle grandfather; and Emma Watson, as Ila, once again shows she has clearly broken away from her breakthrough role as Harry Potter’s sidekick Hermione Granger.

Noah is a creative telling with something for both believers and non-believers. And as a life-long man of faith, I personally found nothing controversial about it.

It isn’t the bedtime version of Noah and the ark you may have heard at Sunday school. It’s dark and, at times, confronting – showing the flaws in humanity against a dramatic and epic destruction.

More InDaily film reviews:

Noah
Half of a Yellow Sun
Möbius (French Film Festival)
I, Frankenstein
Wadjda
Cuban Fury
Bright Days Ahead (French Film Festival)
Need for Speed
Non-Stop
Nebraska

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