- Kase: can i add a mini trampoline to our registry
- me: no
- Kase: rude
Darren Aronofsky and Quentin Tarantino aren’t usually thought of as similar filmmakers, but maybe they should be? This is something that came to my mind toward the end of “Noah” — Aronofsky’s big, loud and messy interpretation of the famous Bible story — right about the time when Russell Crowe was going to stab a baby in the head.
When I wasn’t looking, I guess, Aronofsky became one of our best genre filmmakers. He loves melodrama; heightened might be his favorite word. In that way, “Noah” is one of Aronofsky’s high points. Really, just its existence is a heist. Somehow, Aronofsky got Paramount to spend $150 million on a dark, weird, crazy movie where the title character becomes Jack Torrance in the third act and where unspoken acts of incest are the conduit through which humanity will restore its population.
There’s no real reason to go over the plot of “Noah” — this might be the last review ever written about the movie — but it is to Aronofsky’s credit that he doesn’t shy away from the ugliness inherent within the story. This is a movie where Noah and his family sit in their massive ark (built by The Watchers, a group of fallen angels that resemble Transformers, Ents and the Wild Things) while people literally die horrible deaths just outside the wooden hull. Noah’s response to their tortured, surround-sound cries is the biblical equivalent of a shrug. It’s so audacious and ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh at the horror. I’m guessing Aronofsky would have been thrilled with that response.
There’s a dark sense of humor in “Noah,” though no one could accuse the film of being funny. (There are moments of levity, mostly thanks to Anthony Hopkins, who plays Methuselah as if he were the Six Flags guy. Methuselah just wants some berries, y’all.) The laughs come from a place of absurdity: you kind of can’t believe Noah is going to kill his female grandchildren — he decides after the flood that God’s ultimate plan is to have Noah and his living family be the end of humanity’s line — until he almost does. Aronofsky has the conviction to stage these scenes with a straight face. He’s serious about the histrionics.
So, too, are his actors. Crowe is such a downer in this movie that I’m surprised Paramount didn’t create a character poster for him with the tag line, “Why so serious?” Much has been written about Emma Watson’s performance as Ila, Noah’s adopted daughter and the mother of those twins Noah wants to kill. She’s good at all the anguish, but Watson’s best moment is this little mischievous look of glee and lust that she gives Noah after conceiving those babies with Shem (Douglas Booth, beard), her fake brother. In the end, though, Watson can’t hold a tortured candle to Jennifer Connelly. There’s a part in Noah’s third act — this movie might have the longest third act of the year? — where Connelly just unloads on Crowe’s Noah, and the snot and tears streaming down her face reminded me of Viola Davis’ one big moment in “Doubt.” Connelly is just so good at acting in Aronofsky movies. He seems to push Connelly outside of her comfort zone in ways other directors don’t even dream possible.
Is “Noah” a good movie? Yes, I think so. It’s goofy and tragic; silly and serious; it’s an Aronofsky movie. After six features, I finally know what that means.
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