Over the past few days I have seen two very different movies that share a similar theme, religious faith. Due to the cynicism of the modern world, a long side a better awareness of the damage and corruption that macro institutions like the church can cause, it is very hard to tell positive stories about religious faith. Both Noah and Calvary try this with differing degrees of success.

Calvary

The more successful of the two is Calvary, a small independent Irish movie from John Michael McDonagh. In the film, Father James Lavelle is told he will be killed in seven days by an unknown person. Over those days he makes his peace with the people of his parish and the greater issues of the church. What the film does so cleverly is that it answers it questions on a personal scale rather than trying to deal with all the issues that the Catholic church has to deal with. This only works because at the films heart is Father Lavelle who is a fundamentally a good man even though he has his flaws and it is his faith that keeps him good.

Noah

Noah, an American blockbuster from director Darren Aronofsky, is a much more bombastic movie and suffers for it. Now to be fair [surname] it is probably impossible to make a movie about Noah and for it not to be bombastic. It is after all the first apocalypse story.

The problem is that the general strokes of bombastic storytelling places the characters in a very different setting and so the nature of how their faith is tested is very different. Indeed Aronofsky films turns Noah into a fanatic who would kill his own grandchildren because that is what the Creator (Aronofsky’s name for God in the film) wants him to do. This version is Noah is about two steps away from being a man who wears an “End is Nigh” sandwich board who you’d ignore if you saw him on the street.

These feeling are not helped by Russell Crowe’s performance as Noah. The problem is that we saw Crowe in a very similar role last year when he played Jor-El in Man of Steel which also had a similarly world destroying climax, just on a city scale.

Yet at the end of both films Father Lavelle and Noah have suffered and lost due to their faith and trying to do what they thought was right and best for the world.

Let me know below whether you agree with me or what other movies you think talk about religious faith in a positive way?