Last week I attended the fan première in Edinburgh of Russell Crowe and Darren Aronofsky’s telling of the story, Noah.
Walking through the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh, I couldn’t help but get excited at the prospect of attending a red carpet event. The salubrious warmth of an upmarket hotel was exactly the setting you’d expect for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Sadly the rain cloud covering Scotland, drove my thoughts towards the growing queue outside the Edinburgh Filmhouse as I approached, and that’s when I knew my feet were in for a tough day.
I was told to arrive as early as possible, with the lure of a personal appearance from Russell Crowe himself. The atmosphere was pretty tame and in truth most people I spoke to seemed more interested in a free day out than catching a glimpse of an A list celebrity. When Crowe arrived, flanked by burly men in kilts, the sea of people were parted on the red carpet. To his credit Crowe happily posed for photos with fans and signed autographs.
Finally we were ushered into the cinema, and I was glad to find a seat. Before the film Crowe made another appearance to introduce the film, promising something something intense. It’s easy to sound overtly cynical as most of my day was spent waiting however, it’s not something everyone gets to experience too often…unless they’ve been to Alton Towers of course! Now let’s get onto the main feature, the film.
The film is split into two fairly distinct halves. The first tells the story of Noah building the ark assisted by fallen angels called ‘the watchers’. Their inclusion in the film addresses the fairly pragmatic question of ‘how did one man build such a large structure?’. Their secondary function is that of battle hardened CGI Goliaths – in fact a great deal of the story rests on their gargantuan rock shoulders. Without giving too much away there is a huge battle scene which splits the film. It did feel that this had been shoe horned in to offer some big dumb respite in a dialogue heavy two hours.
The second part deals with Noah and his struggle to cope with the burden of ‘The Creators’ task, whilst also maintaining family relationships. This is certainly the more engaging of the two halves. Crowe deals with the role well but I just wasn’t over awed. Here is a man who has been tasked with the future of the human race, who is struggling with the enormity of being gods hand on earth. Despite this I felt very little emotion or indeed empathy towards him. Perhaps this is the intention however to feel nothing towards a protagonist either says that I am a heartless sod or something has gone wrong.
By far the strongest performance in the film comes from Emma Watson. The scenes between her and Crowe in the climatic parts of the story are easily the most interesting and taught moments. Her character serves as a sort of moral touch point for Noah, with her journey from child to woman, reflective of his inner turmoil. This being said the pace of the movie is dreadfully slow and the stories’ focus wavers throughout. Months pass in between stifling screen wipes where very little happens off screen despite huge plot developments being dropped moments earlier.
Visually the movie is stunning throughout especially the dystopic blackened earth in the opening scenes. Although the film has its flaws, it’s worth a watch. Biblical yes, epic I’m afraid not.
Words and photography by Graeme Murdoch