By Di Golding

Mailed on March 31, 2014

Stamp image Standard
StarStarStarEmpty StarEmpty Star

Dear Jennifer Connelly's Forehead
Surrogate Audience Member

Dear Jennifer,

Unlike most former child actors, Jennifer's CV is studded with predominantly dark and melancholy choices. From 80s Dario Argento squirmer Phenomena, to her courageous performance as a drug addict in Darren Aronofsky's _Requiem for a Dream, _almost all of her roles require you to flex. Even in those infrequent moments when a script asks that Jennifer smile, you are only ever momentarily relaxed. That constant left brow crease, the throbbing temporal vein, and those iconic, lush eyebrows register such convincing levels of concern, confusion and conviction, it's almost as if Jennifer seeks out characters full of dread just to show you off.

If that's the case, Noah is your Vogue magazine cover.

The earth where Noah and his family live has been ravaged from over-industrialization by the descendants of Cain. They believe the earth and its finite resources are there for man to abuse, whereas Noah and his family believe the earth is theirs to protect. Noah moves his family when food and resources begin to dwindle, and on their journey they save an injured young girl who they adopt as their own. Believing he has been chosen to save the world, Noah seeks out his grandfather Methuselah for guidance. The result is the vision for the ark, and its subsequent assemblage. When Cain's descendants mount an attack on the ark, the Creator brings on the mighty flood, saving Noah, his family, and two of every animal on earth. It is on the ark that Noah makes a decision that rips his family apart.

As soon as we see you, you're contracting apprehensively and I wondered, were you in character as Noah's wife Naameh, or genuinely responding as Jennifer herself? There are certainly enough WTF moments in this film - from grizzled villain, Ray Winstone stowing away on the ark, to Noah getting drunk on grapes and passing out naked on a beach - that could make the case either way. When Noah makes the family trek through a spent strip mine inhabited by giant rock monsters with British accents, I could have sworn I saw you quiver from a Labyrinth flashback. For the next two hours your default position is a bewilderment/resignation combo.

If it's any consolation, my forehead was furrowed right there with you.

Some religious folks have condemned this flick for not being 'biblically accurate'. As far as I can tell, the phrase 'biblically accurate' only makes sense if it's a compliment one OCD science nerd pays to another i.e.: "Dude, your accuracy with those results was biblical!" My religion is film, my god is story, and in this instance, my god appears to have forsaken me. Some might decry my questioning of acclaimed director Aronofsky's vision as akin to heresy, and I'll admit, there were fleeting moments of intensity that rivalled some of his best work. But for the most part, this special effects nature-porn isn't any more impressive than a big budget National Geographic special on global warming. Once the film has blown it's CGI load, it turns into a kitchen sink drama, an episode of Eastenders as directed by Mike Leigh.

You've worked with Russell Crowe before, so you know he has chops, but as Noah his range begins as earnest front man for a Mumford and Sons cover band and goes all the way to Mel Gibson mugshot. It falls to poor Jennifer to anchor the heart of this bloated celluloid barge and in the third act you come out swinging. Noah decrees that the Creator must have chosen them to be the last people on earth, as there is no way to repopulate. When his son Shem tells him he and his adopted daughter Ila, long thought barren, are with child, Noah vows to kill the baby when it is born. Naameh flies into a rage. You frowned when Noah made them leave their home. You crinkled obediently when forced to build an ark and clean up after a zoo's worth of animals. But faced with infanticide, you pulse out Jennifer's frontal vein so violently I was thankful I hadn't chosen the IMAX Experience.

Aronofsky seems to have meant his film as an exploration of Noah: The Man, rather than Noah: The Legend, but in doing so, he has ended up with a stubborn, penitent narcissist for a protagonist. The story told from Naameh's perspective might have added an interesting wrinkle to an old tale since in many ways she was the real hero. She worked just as hard and suffered just as much as Noah, actually more so because she had to put up with his megalomaniacal behaviour. It's no wonder you knit her brow in permanent consternation.

I hope Jennifer gives you a break and signs on to do a romantic comedy next. You know she'll never get Botox; she--and we--need you too much.

Cheer up,


comments powered by Disqus
(% endraw %}