Behold the Mighty Winstone
After a decade of less than stellar work, Russell Crowe has returned to the type of role which won him an Oscar for Gladiator. In Noah, he plays the title character, a man driven to build an ark so he can save the innocent, while vicious factions of humanity perish in a terrible storm.
Director Darren Aronofsky tries something different from his low-budget, artistic offerings such as Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. Despite going overboard with his graphic art approach for The Seven Days of Creation, he makes a film where acting counts more than visual effects.
Ray Winstone offers a relentless cascade of fun as Tubal-cain, the bloodthirsty leader who wields an axe, ready to conquer at least ten armies. There are some similarities to his character Bors from King Arthur, yet Tubal-cain will always go the extra mile to gain one more precious second of mortality. He also has a way of reading people, which allows him to twist their desires in order to do his bidding. I would watch Noah again simply to marvel at Winstone’s growing excellence as an actor.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Connelly simply bears witness to Aronofsky’s vision. She underplays the first half, only to find herself confronted by an impossible situation. When the moment of truth finally arrives, it's well worth the wait!
Due to longer running times, the historical epic can settle into a more laid-back rhythm. Although editor Andrew Weisblum doesn't linger on the ark's creation for very long, he shapes each surrounding scene carefully. There’s never a sense that moments have been trimmed to the detriment of the whole work. Emotional interactions are allowed just enough time to feel complete.
Overall, Noah may lack the so-called “Hollywood Touch” - - reminiscent of The Ten Commandments - - yet Aronofsky reflects the status quo in matters of spirituality with a sense of enlightenment.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated "PG-13" for violence, disturbing images, and brief suggestive content.)