An Irish girl with a beautiful singing voice loses her family and suffers all kinds of vicissitudes at the hands of men and nuns, only to grow up and save children in Vietnam. Such is the true story behind Noble, a moving tale of accomplishing things you have no business doing.
One could argue that it’s difficult to screw up a movie about a heroic tale, but not if one has been to the movies very often. Writer/director/relative newcomer Stephen Bradley has done a fine job of splitting Noble’s story into two parts: Her life up until she has the dream to help Vietnam, and the first three months of her journey into Vietnam.
Noble is an amazing character, too. Defiant of authority, self-possessed at a ridiculously young age, and blessed with a beautiful singing voice she breaks out at times more mild-mannered folks might consider it inappropriate—and usually to great positive effect on her cause—it seems inevitable that she would fall afoul of the world’s worst characters. And she does.
From a basically evil truant officer, to countless nuns—I reminded The Boy there was a time when nuns were played as heroes onscreen, as I don’t think he’s ever seen that in a movie—to thuggish men (so many thuggish men), it definitely seems as though the world tried its best to grind Christina down.
But the funny thing is she has a faith in God. And it’s a most interesting faith in God. One could almost say she treats Him as an equal. She makes demands. She expresses disappointments. At one point, she literally says “You lead. I’ll follow,” and walks randomly through Ho Chi Minh city. In a lifetime full of disappointment, she believes fervently that God has an amazing plan for her (and apparently random walk actually works out).
Lotsa feels. Lotsa baby-related feels.
There were things that annoyed me. Like when she arrives in Vietnam, a fellow Irishman tells her to visit it all before Americans move in and develop everything. I’ve become rather appalled by this love of poverty first worlders have when third worlders have it. (But, in fairness, said Irishman turns out to be there for some pedophilia so, you know, not exactly a ringing endorsement.)
The struggle to get this facility built that Noble wants is the MacGuffin here, and she naturally meets all kinds of resistance from a stodgy politburo and virtually all the oil companies. What kills me is that it turns out she’s trying to raise $20,000, which is less than about $40,000 in today’s dollars.
Which a) is a pretty damn small amount of money, like petty cash for an oil company; b) is the sort of money we routinely raise in the Internet age.
Anyway, good character, played at different ages by three different actresses: The brand new Gloria Cramer Curtis plays lovable orphan Christina, Sarah Greene (“Penny Dreadful”) plays the feisty young mother Christina, and Deirdre O’Kane (who worked with the director on the zomcom Boy Eats Girl) plays middled-aged/motivated Christina.
Not likely to get a big release here—it opened with 175 screens—worth a look-see, especially if you’re in the mood for an inspirational story.