(I wrote this after seeing Noah once, on a plane, and you should know that it a) contains spoilers and b) probably contains mistakes about the film, because I’m certainly not going to go back and watch it again just to correct this blog.)
1. It’s unexpectedly fast paced. Aronofsky just makes lots of batshit crazy things happen one after the other, which he doesn’t bother to explain, which is good; because if you stopped to think about them for even a second, they would be too ridiculous for words. Like what are those glowing seeds all about? Doesn’t matter.
2. Russell Crowe (Noah) spends the movie looking as portly and chunky as the owner of a pub on the M25, even though Noah is supposed to be a noble hunter-gatherer who subsists on berries and hates killing animals and is also doing lots of intense physical exercise. Jennifer Connelly just looks hot, and acts her little socks off.
3. It’s totally entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and never boring. Oh, and the music is good, and the cinematography is great.
4. Ray Winstone is in it, being an evil character (weirdly named “Tubal-Cain”, I discovered from the credits) with a voice so low and gravelly it sounds like he’s on one of those anti-smoking adverts. He and Russticles get to have a big fight towards the end too. It is a little bit like watching two elephant seals rolling around on a slippery rock, bumping their chunky man-boobs together and grunting.
5. Also, for no good reason, Ray Winstone the Warrior, descendant of Cain, has lustrous long grey hair that looks about twenty feet long. I can imagine that was a very useful length to have your hair, when you spent most of your time in hand-to-hand combat, running around on rocky slopes spearing deer, and using latrines which presumably are, at this point, big holes in the ground.
6.There’s a whole thing about Russticles’ son, Ham, having no woman, and needing a woman to breed and ‘become a man’ (the other younger son doesn’t have a woman either, but nobody seems too worried about that). Noah’s going to go get Ham a woman to take on the Ark to survive the flood with them, but then changes his mind and abandons the chosen girl with her foot in a big metal trap to be trampled by loads of dudes- who apparently are quite happy to risk falling over and looking like an idiot, which is what would happen to me if I tried to trample a girl to death who was really quite sizeable. Other weird stuff happens that would take too long to explain re: pairing babies off with grown men.
7. When Russty says, over moody music, “We must build….AN ARK.”, everyone looks suitably enthralled and impressed; even though since this is the first one ever made, presumably nobody would have known the word “ark” even meant and they were probably just humouring him. (Cut to years later: three-quarters built giant wooden thing. “Oh, wait, THIS is the ark? This boat thing we’re building? Wow, I feel like I should have put two-and-two together earlier!”)
8. Russticles somehow manages to keep a straight face in the final scene where he dramatically wraps a tatty snake skin around his arm, with soaring music playing to signify “end of movie/circle of life type moment’, and then slowly squidges his finger against a little baby finger and everyone looks super intense and then there’s a big religious rainbow. Russ, you are an actor and a half.
9. All the actors are wearing “biblical chic” clothes that are tres adorable, especially Jennifer Connolly whose figure-hugging outfit includes a really nice three-quarter length top (the Autumn range at Mango), and Emma Watson who gets a nifty little off-the-shoulder number.
It all looks ever so practical for, eg. hewing, tilling and ploughing the land (if those words don’t all mean the same thing), looking after a zillion animals and/or building a giant wooden boat. Also, the family spend most of the film living in a massive grey desert with absolutely no trees, plants or animals, so what are they making any of the clothes from? Who cares though. It looks totes awesome.
10. One of the scenes is the following: Anthony Hopkins, as Methuselah (wearing a bald cap and looking generally decrepit) comforts Emma Watson (Ila) because she is barren and can’t give the hot son any kids. In a supremely creepy moment, he reaches out and puts his hand on her weird scarred stomach, which somehow has been making her be infertile (one of the things that’s not really explained properly- she got the scar when the evil tribes roamed the lands and killed her parents), and then all the trees go weird and whooshy, then all of a sudden she’s not infertile any more. She sprints off to find the hunky son and is all like “dude, let’s do it in the forest,” and there’s lots of dramatic music and heavy breathing. (Thankfully, Aronofsky didn’t cut back to Anthony Hopkins doing a ‘satisfied smile at a job well done’ face, as he hears Emma and Hot Son bonking in the forest; though with all the dramatic music going on, he would have heard it from a mile away).
11. There’s big stone angel things, which conveniently have no personality, and you don’t have to care about in any way so you don’t really mind when they die or something. They just look cool.
12. There’s an amazingly-made, beautiful visual sequence which blends elements of creationism and Darwinism in a way I really liked, before a Garden of Eden scene with some CGI figures that are meant to be Adam and Eve but look more like crash-test dummies which have been painted with glow-in-the-dark paint and a weirdly unrealistic looking snake (OMG that’s why Noah keeps faffing about with a snake-skin and wrapping it around his arm, I TOTALLY GET THIS FILM). The sequence then finishes up with fighting silhouettes, demonstrating man’s inhumanity to man. This whole segment is overall pretty ace. Nicely done, Darren. (Though Russticles’s tone in the voiceover does sound slightly put-upon and bored, as if he’s a dad reporting back on his daughter’s clarinet ensemble at the primary school talent evening. “It was good. It was all good.”)
13. After the water’s gone down and everything is OK, Noah finishes the film getting totally wrecked on wine in a cave, which he is drinking out of a large, slightly phallic wooden cup thing. The sons have to come to the cave, and tell him to snap out of it and stop being a giant downer, as he is ruining the end of the film for absolutely no reason – since there is no real dramatic contrivance or event in the film that has justified his being this depressed. At this point Russ has a lot of brown stuff all over his face, and looks like man who owns a pub on the M25, but one who has fallen over a lot and maybe pooed himself. For some reason, Jennifer/Naameh (who still looks totally hot and has a new outfit, specially made for kneeling in dirt and stuff) still fancies him though, and they have a romantic moment while tilling/hewing some soil. So it all turns out ok. Again, Aronofsky wisely edits right down any scene that other directors probably would have lingered on too long, when you would have started thinking too much about how ridiculous everything is.
14. This beard, which made me chuckle louder than any other film beard has before:
15. And Hot Son’s facial hair, which remains pristine throughout the film:
…despite the fact that shaving implements- in a boat that you’ve made yourself in biblical times, having left your previous house which was a tent in a desert- are probably pretty thin on the ground.
16. Emma Watson does awesome ‘giving birth’ acting which made me properly laugh out loud because it was that good. Scream! Push! Scream! Ah, here’s the baby. Yay! I shall gaze at it on my chest with doe-eyed happiness. But wait! (Eyes bulge in surprise). Naameh says: “There’s another one!” Yikes, didn’t see that coming! Louder scream! Yay, two babies (cut to scene of Emma holding two babies).
17. Russ sings a lullaby to comfort young Ila. He really can’t pull it off very well. It sounds like a tramp outside Paddington Station singing to himself as he does a wee in the corner.
18. There’s lots of scenes where the family sit around the fire, listening to Noah telling them again some portentous story of his vision about how everyone is going to die and how the human race is doomed to suffer for its evil, or the Creation story for a bit of a change; and you think: Hmm yes, great storytelling Noah, but I feel like he would have told them that already, in the intervening MANY MANY YEARS that they’ve all been hanging out together, building the ark and stuff. Or does he just tell them the same portentous, gloomy stories every single evening? Why do they all still listen to him? If I ever saw a family crying out for a game of Monopoly and some light TV entertainment channels, it is this one.
19. There’s a whole bit in the middle where Russ goes completely mental and lurks around in dark corners on the Ark, waiting for Emma Watson to give birth so he can kill her babies. It makes the narrowboat holiday I took in the early 2000’s with my family, seem less of “a stressful, cooped-up nightmare” than I called it at the time.
20. It’s exactly the right length for a giant bar of chocolate to be comfortably polished off, and you won’t care if you rustle the packet, because the dialogue is completely ludicrous anyway and doesn’t matter at all.
See this film. It will make you very happy for an evening. (And you can be extra cheered by the fact that lots of fundamentalist Christians were annoyed about it).