Noah's Ark


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

Noah's Ark
"The semi-improvised film finds real heart in its characters."

A sweet-natured comedy about escaping from humdrum existences, Noah's Ark (El Arca De Noé) shows the unpredictability of change when new-found unemployment and a worsening financial situation set off a chain of events wherein two men try to travel to a parallel universe. Paco (Fran Gomis) and Miguel (Miguel Chillón) have worked as security guards at the same deserted factory for more than eight years but barely exchange two words as one works the day shift, the other the night. The film initially explores the industrial spaces in which the two men spend most of their time - the glare of strip lighting and the suffocating heat render cavernous warehouses airless, and the sound of boots on metal staircases is swallowed up by the hum of emptiness in the barren surroundings outside.

This is the trudge of the daily grind with little to spark animation or offer fulfilment. News reports on the radio reveal continuing economic strife and natural disasters on an almost apocalyptic scale - the politicians' promises of economic order being restored drew hearty chuckles at the screening at the D'A Festival - with seemingly little light at the end of the tunnel. But as each man works his shift, we also see what the other gets up to during his free time - slowly, personalities emerge from behind the stultifying tedium at the factory.

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Paco (a.k.a. The Wolf - all of the characters have an animal name) is also a faith healer and keen on reciting philosophy, while Miguel (a.k.a. The Bear) has a gift for gadgetry in the form of mechanical works and model making. When the two men lose their jobs without notice they are put on the back foot, but out of the subsequently shared scrabble for economic equilibrium a friendship blossoms. In tandem, their world expands into open natural spaces - the crispness and rich colours of the cinematography, and some distinctively quirky framing (for example, several shots are composed upside-down), deliver some beautiful images - and both men find a spring in their step.

It is during one of these shared trips to the great outdoors that Paco suffers a seizure and has a vision of a machine that he believes could enable them to access parallel universes. Paco's sincere belief and detailed description sparks Miguel's imagination and the two men will beg, borrow, and steal to make this vision a reality - Miguel's inventiveness has something of Heath Robinson's contraptions or the junkyard mechanisms in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs. Their child-like enthusiasm for the project is contagious - that each believes in the other is sufficient to allow them to overcome doubts (given physical form by Miguel's ex-wife (Eva Torregrosa)) - and one of Paco's clients, a woman plagued by constant pain and fatigue (known simply as The Ostrich (Alicia Santonja)), joins them as a fellow traveller into the unknown.

This journey into an alternative dimension is another form of unpredictable change - Noah's Ark does not suggest that the trio will necessarily find something better, but that it will be different and sometimes that is enough. Unless you take a chance, nothing will change and you will stay in the same rut. The semi-improvised film finds real heart in its characters and their shared belief that it is possible to need something so badly that you will it into existence.

Reviewed on: 04 May 2015
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In Spain 2020, two security guards suddenly lose their jobs and join forces to build a machine to escape the world of economic crisis.

Director: Adán Aliaga, David Valero

Writer: Adán Aliaga, David Valero

Starring: Fran Gomis, Miguel Chillón, Alicia Santonja, Eva Torregrosa, Morgan Blasco, Alfonso M. Carrasco, Ricardo Pastor, Carmen Monteagudo

Year: 2014

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: Spain


D'A Festival 2015

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