This is a movie about America and generational shifts. The fact that it was originally shot in 1968 should give you a clue. Plot: old-school army veteran is stranded alone on an enemy (communist China) island outpost sometime after nuclear holocaust (presumably). There are several plot-lines which must resolve during the course of the film.
The first is, How does a man - any man - deal with absolute loneliness and the hopelessness associated with knowing that no one else exists in the entire world? Of course, this a step or two beyond Tom Hanks' Cast Away, as there is hope for Hanks, even if the pathos at that movie's end is also debasing. For Robert Strauss, the tour-de-force participant and titular "The Noah," the resolution is quite dramatic if entirely expected. I won't spoil the actual progression of Noah's self-awareness or madness, as the case may be, but I would like to comment that it's not as cleverly done as Cast Away. On the other hand, the impact of The Noah is exceptional, and with subtlety.
The second resolution must be, How does a World War 2 dog-of-war deal with the modern (for 1968) age? This is handled on several levels, some with skill, some with a ham fist - your view on which are which will likely be tied to your birth year. Those of "the greatest generation" will possibly feel a great sympathy for the lead character, while those of the "hippie generation" could find themselves alternately awed then nonplussed (younger than that, and you'll be lost, except as it concerns fictional empathy). Not that director Daniel Bourla gave Strauss much more material than playing off old audio tapes from history; or that the screen writing called for a narrow range of emotions, from crotchetiness to self-pity. This is the main weakness of the film itself.
The third resolution must be the filmmaker's (and thus your) view of America, especially in juxtaposition with communism. Will you be disgusted, cheered, or bored by the "army" of Chairman Mao busts? Where will you fall in the melange of flags, uniforms, culture shifts, and overarching philosophies? I found the movie to be quite schizophrenic in this regard, and that added another stratum of complexity to an already meaty subject. Just to mention one scene, after the "graduation" the "natives" become restless and it appears that a revolution is brewing; the manner in which The Noah attempts to meet this challenge is fascinating but at the same time quite excruciating since there is little doubt on the end-game and therefore not a lot of tension.
Other implications from 1968 are apparent here and there: (1) the obvious counter-cultural message from Friday and Anne-Friday; (2) the overbearing war soundtrack; (3) the selection and arrangement of historical excerpts. Most of this is a bludgeoning message and therefore may be disregarded as so much era-centered squealing.
On the very plus side, the finale will mark you. It is deeply etching and undeniably disturbing. It is not that it ices a cake, but that it is the cake. We learn in fact that the entire movie was a baking process leading to a product, which is the final few minutes. It will make you judge the rest of the film that much more harshly, but maybe that's good.
Review by gengar843 from the Internet Movie Database.