Breaking The Waves
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Duration: 2 hrs 18 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2
A few eyebrows were raised when director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For a Dream, Black Swan, The Wrestler) decided to make a film on the Biblical account of Noah. I must make a disclosure here that yours truly was also one of the skeptics but am glad to report that Aronofsky has not made a Roland Emmerich kind of a undemanding film, crammed with special effects. On the contrary, he has given a absorbing touch to the one of the most popular but not so highly elaborated episodes in the Bible.
There will be two ways to approach the film – one from a Biblical perspective and the other would be to appreciate it from a cinematic point of view and the director’s fascinating perspective of Noah’s character. Those looking for the former will be sorely disappointed.
This is not the case of a direct storytelling, for instance the “Watchers” (Ents like characters from The Lord of the Rings) made of stone have no mention in the canon and though Tubal-cain existed, there is no mention of him trying to take over the ark.
The film opens with a quick recap of the Adam and Eve story which is told with fast cuts, a la Requiem For A Dream. Noah (Russell Crowe) lives with his wife (Jenniffer Connelly) and three children Shem, Ham and Japheth. Noah was around 500 years old when he sired the children but in the film he is just shown as a middle aged man who gets visions that the day of reckoning is not too far. He looks out for his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) seeking advice, who is more interested in fresh berries than anything else. He also comes across the “Watchers” who are basically fallen angels and it takes some convincing to get them on his side.
Convinced that the Creator (there is no reference to God at all in the film) is going to unleash something stupendous, Noah starts building his ark and he also has to fight the men of King Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) who plan to take over the ark.
Noah also has another task on his hands- he is certain that the Creator wants to wipeout man mankind from the face of the earth and obedience to His orders is on the top of his agenda. That means, he has to kill his own family including the adopted daughter (Emma Watson), so that there can be a new beginning on the planet, minus the human beings.
Now that is where the writers Aronofsky and Ari Handel have done a commendable job, in giving the character of Noah a dark and edgy touch. He starts off as being all caring and loving but then later carrying out the Creators wishes becomes his first priority even if it means going against his own family and conscience.
The message about preserving the environment is also loud and clear and perhaps Noah was also the first Vegan of his time. The audience sees him as an environmental activist but as a character, he was only doing what suited him best, which is to protect his own interests.
Apparently, the writers had a different ending in mind but eventually had to bow down to one that would please most audiences. After the strong build up, it seems like a letdown. Since there aren’t too many concrete details of say Noah’s drunkenness and the curse of Ham, they are shown in passing.
The pace of the film is certainly an issue and at 138 minutes it is a too long and sluggish at times. Also the Lord of the Rings kind of a fight between the ‘Watchers’ and the humans is a bit out of place.
The cast is superb – Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson deserve praise for their performances. Russell Crowe in the lead role is excellent conveying the travails of his character with great conviction.
All said and seen, whether you agree with it or not, Aronofsky’s vision gives us something to talk about. And speaking of destruction, it’s time to bring on Sodom and Gomorrah.