There’s a timeless human story at the heart of Darren Aronofsky’s revisionist biblical epic Noah, and it’s not the one you’d think.
With Noah himself reduced to a solemn killjoy by Russell Crowe’s growly performance, and his wife Naameh portrayed as blandly irrelevant by Jennifer Connelly, the sole character rendered with any real depth is their teenage son Ham, as played by Logan Lerman. In the absence of any alternative focal points, Lerman’s singularly committed performance transforms Noah into a quintessential teen angst drama on a previously unimaginable scale.
In the hands of Aronofsky, Ham ranks alongside Rebel Without A Cause’s Jim Stark as one of cinema’s defining adolescents, caught in a perilous state of emotional flux. At the beginning of Noah, he finds himself on the verge of adulthood, living in a separatist forest clearing with his paranoiac, ark-building father and dutiful, unquestioning siblings. As the middle child, he finds himself regularly overlooked in favour of first-born Shem and pre-teen Japheth.
Like any heterosexual teenage boy, Ham has his fair share of girl troubles. Beyond his immediate family, he has contact with only one female – Shem’s girlfriend Ila (Emma Watson) – who’s sympathetic to his barely concealed lust for her. Later – warning: spoilers incoming! – Ham engages in a brief dalliance with a refugee girl, but their relationship takes a turn for the worse after he sees her trampled to death by marauding savages. Alone, he boards the sexless ark he’ll share with a group of blood relatives for the next six months.
The trip is not without incident: mental breakdowns are suffered and bloody infanticide is threatened, while a stowaway obliterates the integrity of the ark’s two-of-every-animal policy by cheerfully munching down a few lizards. But Ham stays the course, and when the ark finally docks, he sets out to make his own way in the world. Sadly, with the rest of humanity now long dead, his prospects look inauspicious at best.
Paramount, DVD & Blu-Ray
Also out this week
A Long Way Down Suicide-themed Nick Hornby dramedy.
Venus In Fur Uncomfortable sex film from post-conviction Roman Polanski.
We Are The Best! Lessons in punk from pre-teen Swedes.
Cheap Thrills Daringly dark capitalist satire.
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