There’s an endless amount of rain, animals from a once-renowned and now ruined zoo, various boats, and a man of God named Noah. But this isn’t your average biblical flood scenario.
First of all, the setting for Starck’s debut is the United States, primarily a spot that was once a charming tourist destination in the hills but which, after the nonstop downpour, has become a moldering ghost town. Second, the era is modern, complete with TVs, trucks, and a visiting state weatherman who warns the townsfolk that no end to the rain is in sight and that they are doomed unless they evacuate within the next week. Charismatic, joyful, energetic minister Noah has arrived, along with his wife, after the previous minister’s death—was it suicide?—with a simple mission: to do some good. But can his faith triumph where another has succumbed? Starck’s unusual, often charmingly phrased fable is constructed around the responses of a band of individuals to life’s unpredictable challenges. The townsfolk who stay on—loyal zookeeper Adam, sincere Italian storekeeper Mauro, indomitable diner-owner Mrs. McGinn—show their mettle as the fabric of their lives and homes crumbles away, even billeting the zoo animals after their quarters are inundated. There’s comedy in the penguins lodging in Mrs. McGinn’s walk-in freezer and tragedy as Noah falters in the face of the onslaught. But Starck’s story has largely upbeat messages to deliver: the animals point out a path to safety; the community comes together; true hearts are conjoined; and Mrs. Noah rallies the rescue forces. Variously romantic, symbolic, philosophical, feminist, and fanciful, this is an atmospheric tale that meanders to a sweetly rousing conclusion.
Forget the ark, forget the patriarch. It’s the women who tend to triumph in this modern take on an Old Testament parable.