“This is the end of everything!”
“The beginning! The beginning of everything!”
It’s only four months in, but I’m going to go ahead and dub 2014 “the year where Hollywood got existential”. After The Lego Movie, which was indeed awesome, but gave me serious 1984 vibes, comes Noah, a bloated, arthouse, big-budget, admirable trainwreck if I’ve ever seen one.
However, while Noah is an absolute sham, it doesn’t feel that bad in the moment. It’s not a Lone Survivor, Non-Stop or Winter’s Tale, where I cried with laughter through the majority and immediately felt that it was downright terrible, instead I walked away from the screening feeling quite mixed. It had some laughable moments, yes, but it also had some good parts (coincidentally, they were the parts that felt the most like Aronofsky), and moreover, I admired that it attempted everything it did (because, let’s face it, who could make that film perfectly?).
For this reason, it’s an incredibly odd film. The concept may have looked excellent on paper – critically adored indie director, name cast, premise that promises a big box office pull – but, at the end of the day, I am absolutely clueless as to where Paramount is planning to make back this overstuffed budget from, let alone how it was spent in the first place. Its taken too much license to appeal to the faith-based audience, is way too avant-garde for the average cinemagoer, and too much of an uneven blockbuster for cinephiles. Instead, it walks this line between being all three, making for a very confused film. When Noah attempts the blockbuster, it falls flat on its face in a blur of closeups on terrible CG babies, rock monsters (Transformers: BC, anyone?), and a band of baddies whose backstory is never explained, and the majority of which I am still unsure about.
Despite all the misogyny, extreme absence of logic, inaccuracy (Jennifer Connelly was wearing jeans and rubber soled shoes in one of the final scenes, I swear), and the most token comic relief ever, I would be hard pressed to find a recent film where it is so evident how hard everyone tried, but somehow failed miserably. You get the sense that the actors were left to largely their own devices, thrown in the deep end without much direction to navigate a complex film, not helped by the fact it has some very bad editing. This is evident in a scene where Jennifer Connelly is giving her absolute all, with Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Colour levels of snot flowing down her face, but it’s just awkward and not good to watch at all. The same can be said about the other performances, as well as Connelly’s – they’re throwing absolutely everything at it, but are being horribly serviced.
Overall, Noah is Aronofsky’s best attempt at pretty much the unfilmable, making it admirable in that regard. It has some great cinematography and montage moments, but ultimately, it leaves the same amount of destruction as the famed flood.
Noah received a wide release starting Thursday (March 27).
M (mature themes and violence), 138 mins.