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Noah
Image: Niko Tavernise / Paramount Pictures
Russell Crowe in 'Noah'
Noah
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (For violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content.)
Genre
Directed By
Darren Aronofsky
Run Time
2 hours 18 minutes
Cast
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins
Theatre Release
March 28, 2014 by Paramount Pictures

Here's my take: Christianity Today reader, you should see Noah.

I can't promise you'll like Noah. Nor would I suggest that if you don't, it indicates that something is necessarily wrong with you.

But as I struggled to write about this film this week—in the wake of dozens of other excellent pieces from both mainstream and Christian sources—that's what it all came down to. So yes, if you're wondering: Noah is worth your time and your ticket price.

Reason 1: Noah is a good movie made by good filmmakers who pursue important questions and think of movies as art.

Leo Carroll and Anthony Hopkins in ‘Noah’Image: Paramount Pictures

Leo Carroll and Anthony Hopkins in ‘Noah’

Darren Aronofsky directed the film (read our interview with him and co-writer Ari Handel), and what ties Aronofsky's body of work together is a deep concern for and interest in the most basic building blocks of human-ness.

His films stylistically swing between the mind-bendingly surreal and the uncomfortably, grittily real, but this is at the core of each one. Requiem for a Dream looked at humans as the kinds of beings who are driven by a desire for fulfillment and the good life, no matter how delusional. The Wrestler and Black Swan both explored embodiment, and painfully, graphically exposed what happens when we objectify and abstract bodies (male and female) from their connection to the rest of the human. The Fountain grappled with death and life after death.

I generally like Aronofsky's films, but I was especially captured by the weird, moody, enigmatic Fountain, which starred Hugh Jackman as, by turns, some kind of ancient wanderer, a doctor, and a futuristic enlightened consciousness, all in three stories that spanned a millennium. Lots of people didn't like the movie, which I understand. But I thought it was fascinating in its expansive imagination and wrestling with questions about mortality and humanity (and reincarnation). I thought about it for months afterward.

Noah is another entry in this filmography. It asks big questions: Are humans worth saving? What is the place of justice and mercy in existence? How ought people relate to both powers greater than themselves and to the world in which they dwell?

Russell Crowe in ‘Noah’Image: Paramount Pictures

Russell Crowe in ‘Noah’

But what makes Noah work, even in its more messy bits, is that it usually avoids asking those questions pedantically. Instead, it embeds them in a story shared by the world's major religions (most ancient mythologies as well). And it retells the story with a startlingly fresh imagination, generally strong writing, and great acting talent—Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins.

(If all you're looking for is a brief review, you can skip down to the "Caveat Spectator" now. But I've got more to say.)

Reason 2: Noah is a solid adaptation.

Adaptations are Hollywood bread and butter, as we all know from endless arguments over whether the movie is "as good" as the book, or whether it messes it up, or whether it's possible to effectively even make a book into a movie, et cetera, ad nauseum.

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