Yes, the story told on the screen strays from the story told in the Bible, but it’s those differences that help make this movie more human, more entertaining, and more emotionally involving. Most children know the Biblical version: When God saw how corrupt mankind had become, He decided to destroy the earth with a flood. But He clearly intended to spare Noah, his family, and the animals he took into the ark. When the floodwaters receded, each species, including the humans, would again propagate the earth. But what if Noah believed that God intended to save only the innocent animals — and put an end to all human beings, including his family? And what if Noah decided it was his duty to carry out his God’s mission? It’s an intriguing idea for a movie.
Director and co-writer Darren Aronofsky is attracted to dark tales of flawed characters looking for redemption. He found those in “The Wrestler” and in “The Black Swan” and he finds one here in Noah (Russell Crowe), a sad and tormented man who seems to be going through the motions, waiting for a sign of his role to play. While this is clearly Noah’s story, the female roles are especially strong and refreshing. To Noah’s wife, Naameh, Jennifer Connelly brings patience and warmth, a watchful eye and a caring heart. She makes this a love story of a mother devoted to her family. And Emma Watson, as Ila, the wounded girl found abandoned along the way, is luminous. Her moments alone with Noah will break your heart. This is the story of an old man and a flood, but more than that, it’s the story of a faithful man and his family. And it’s the humanity in that story that makes this a movie well worth seeing.