The Ark - review

Tony Jordan wrote 200 episodes of EastEnders, so you can be sure that he can tell a good story. His re-working of The Nativity drew audiences of around 5m. He’s hoping for the same again.

And why not? David Threlfall is convincing and humane as Noah. He’s supported by a strong cast including the outstanding Joanne Whalley (The Borgias, Jamaica Inn) as his wife, Emmie.

Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks) does a great turn as a sulky teenager, Noah’s youngest son, and Don Warrington (Death in Paradise) is warm and sympathetic as Noah’s best friend.

When the BBC asked Jordan what he wanted to do next after the success of The Nativity in 2010, he plucked the idea Noah’s ark out of thin air. It was commissioned on the spot.

Jordan says he wanted to make The Ark less ‘like Peppa Pig’ and ‘reclaim it as a story of faith’ full of ‘truthful characters’.

That’s what you get: believable characterisation, great dialogue and a sense (towards the end) of imminent peril.

What you don’t get is a seven-hour biblical epic featuring people with long beards. Thank goodness.

The characters could all have come out of EastEnders: the loving father who apparently goes off the rails; the supportive mother; the teenage son yearning for a more racy life in the city; and young couples trying to work out how and where you have sex in a busy household.

Most of the story isn’t set on the ark at all, and there are very few animals. There are characters who haven’t walked out of the biblical text.

Does it matter? Not one jot. This is a film. It tells a great story.  

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