If you’re going to shake your fist at the heavens, you may as well do it with some style. With Noah, writer-director Darren Aronofsky made a drama out of religion by sticking with a narrative: a man on an unwanted mission from God. Here, he strips away the trappings of story and opts for an illustrated metaphor for the relation of Creator (Javier Bardem) to His creation (Jennifer Lawrence). The result is less drama than horror, depicting (and inspiring) poor humanity’s desire, dread, confusion, devotion, heartbreak, panic, rage, sorrow — the works. (It’s telling that when we first see Lawrence, she is discovering Bardem’s absence.) God appears to stand to what he hath wrought as (impossibly demanding) lover to (endlessly giving) beloved, but also as teacher to disciple, as artist to art, and eventually, as screwer to screwed. And while there is a kind of mutual reliance between the two that can look something like love, there can be no equality, and so ultimately, no real sympathy. The audience, on the other hand, can hardly help but sympathize with Lawrence, whose angelic, suffering face the camera is forever trailing through the house she labors to restore for her man, even as he seems to foment its destruction. Adam and Eve show up, as do Cain and Abel, the Flood, and even the incarnate son. And we know how that goes.
Length: 2 hours, 1 minute