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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Noah’ offers a lot of questions, few answers

You may have already seen Darren Aronofsky's film “Noah.” If so, you might be interested in the review that I wrote for Spokane Public Radio. If not, you might take my review as a warning. Bring along a bottle of aspirin.

Here's my review:

When I was a freshman in college, I dated a girl whose parents were members of the Southern Baptist church. I would go with her family to Sunday service and get involved in spirited discussions about morality – this was in 1965, when the Vietnam War was heating up – and bible stories.

I was confused about the Bible. Being a naïve kid, I tended to ask fairly simplistic questions, such as – how is it possible for Adam and Eve to give birth to the entire human race? Then, one day, my girlfriend turned to me and said, “Da-an, it’s a me-ta-phor.” And this simple pronouncement, uttered by a girl who was still in high school, rocked my world.

I was reminded of that conversation when I watched Darren Aronofsky’s film “Noah,” which doesn’t replicate the story told in Genesis so much as use it for inspiration. The other inspiration, as writer-director Aronofsky has bragged about, is a poem he wrote at age 13 for his seventh-grade teacher – whom he rewarded by giving her not one but two small roles in the film.

Her reward was far better than the one I received, which – augmented by an IMAX-size screen – was a viewing experience that ended up giving me a raging headache. It was only later that I realized I had come down with the flu. But that’s a whole other story. And anyway I still blame the movie.

Regarding the biblical Noah, Genesis raises more questions than it answers (like the tale of Adam and Eve) It involves Noah and his family, the Arc and “two of all living creatures, male and female.” The question becomes, then, how from that limited genetic group do not just the human race but all living things “go forth and multiply”? I was anxious to see what answer Aronofsky would offer.

Turns out, “Noah” the movie doesn’t provide any answers. If anything, it poses even more questions. Such as, who are these rock creatures – supposedly fallen angels called “The Watchers” – who look like something from the set of “Transformers”? How does the character Tubal-Cain – yes, of THAT Cain line – not only manage to sneak aboard the Arc but live in seclusion for nine months without Noah suspecting? How about the animals – those that Tubal-Cain doesn’t eat, that is – what, they SLEEP for the entire voyage? And if everyone else has perished, who is Noah’s son Ham, who ends up doing an end-of-the-movie walkabout, supposed to hook up with? Isn’t everybody else dead? And if they aren’t, what … was … the … point?

Aronofsky doesn’t seem to care. He’s too busy directing Russell Crowe to another of his life-is-so-glum performances, too preoccupied dressing his cast up in cast-off post-apocalyptic outfits, too thrilled with his CGI world-comin-to-an-end effects. Thank the creator that he decided to cast Ray Winstone as the villain; someone had to show Oscar-winners Crow, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins how to carry a line.

Yeah, “Noah” looks good. Aronofsky is a skilled filmmaker; films such as “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan” prove that much. But style is no substitute for plot holes. Not everything can be a me-ta-phor.

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