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Screen » Film

Righteously Insane

Darren Aronofsky's Noah is a big, beautiful manic episode

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Noah isn't for everyone, but it's a perfect movie for those of us who believe obsession is a certain kind of genius. Darren Aronofsky's obsession? His impossible task? Making sense of the Bible. Noah's story is simple enough, if you leave out the details, which I imagine many true believers would suggest that you do. Plot holes? Story doesn't track? Sure. God tells Noah to build a boat, Noah builds it, everyone else sucks so they die, and Noah lives happily ever after, the end.

Aronofsky seems to want to believe the story, but as a storyteller himself, he can't let go of the details. Exactly how did God speak to Noah, and how often? Did Noah resent God for leaving him to separate righteous from wicked, or did he get a bit of a God complex himself? When he saw the sinners raping each other, did he want to save the rapees or did he just say screw it all and take off in his boat?

To watch Noah is to see Aronofsky earnestly trying to resolve these thorny questions, to flesh out a Bible story that doesn't necessarily make a ton of sense in the original version. To make it work in a way that's true for him. To understand an Old Testament God who, as written, might've been kind of an asshole (note: I learned this mostly from an old Lewis Black bit). It's a movie that posits the profound hypothesis that maybe mankind is forever cursed to destroy God's creations because of our irrational love of our own progeny. That's a pretty heavy thought, and to see it come from a movie full of prehistoric hoodies, pregnancy tests performed using a magic leaf, and CGI rock people voiced by Nick Nolte, is completely, righteously, gloriously insane. It's spectacle at its best. Silly, but silly in the way that the universe is profoundly silly. And let's be honest, Nick Nolte was born to voice a rock person.

I think Paramount thought they'd be getting a big budget blockbuster about the word of God; a simple story loudly told. Instead they got one about the mind of a man—a big, bloated, manic episode that only after almost three hours manages to find a messy sort of closure. There's something beautiful about that.

Dir. Darren Aronofsky

Playing various theaters

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