It’s been easy to snicker at Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The notion of the Requiem for a Dream filmmaker taking on a Bible epic was enough to raise eyebrows, and trailers framing the film as a Day After Tomorrow-style action ride only added to the confusion. Controversy swirled, and as news broke that Paramount was testing out alternate cuts in an effort to appease religious audiences, it begged the question: just what was Aronofsky up to?

As it turns out, he was making a much more challenging and compelling movie than anyone saw coming. Whether it will ever find an audience… well, that’s another story entirely.