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Russell Crowe keeps 'Noah' afloat

EntertainmentMoviesRussell CroweNoah (movie)Darren AronofskyA Beautiful Mind (movie)Gladiator (movie)

Whether or not you embrace director Darren Aronofsky's fierce biblical vision in "Noah," it's worth seeing the film for the remarkably moving performance by Russell Crowe in the title role. The actor seems to do his best work in period pieces, the more centuries away from the present the better. Crowe's very good Roman soldier in "Gladiator" won him an Oscar in 2001, and his swashbuckling ship captain in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" greatly buoyed that film. It's not that Crowe can't thrive in more contemporary eras — his other Oscar nominations were for portraying Nobel-winning mathematician John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind" and a big-tobacco whistle blower in Michael Mann's "The Insider." But somehow in "Noah" Crowe reaches higher ground, the actor embodying a soul-searching man torn between family and faith. And when the most difficult choices must be made, you see the pain etched in Crowe's face as Noah goes with God. Yes, the film at times is over the top — fallen angels as towering rock monsters for one — but Aronofsky's artistic vision is searing. And Crowe is masterful carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

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