Bradley's film unfolds in a series of adeptly handled flashbacks and coherent flash-forwards between Noble's youth in the Irish slums, and her adulthood in the shantytowns and orphanages of Vietnam. We follow what is a poignant coming-of-age story about Noble's incredible life, with no stone left un-turned, the flashback elements never posing a threat to the film's structural coherence.
Gloria Cramer Curtis’ debut as young Christina Noble is a delight to watch, an enchanting portrayal of an independent and mischievous child with strength beyond her years. Noble's pre-Vietnam past is rife with abuse from family, men and institutional religion, and yet the feeling that prevails is an overwhelmingly hopeful one as friendship, faith and determination endure in the face of tragic hardship. Christina abandons the nuns, but never her faith in God, as she takes her visions of Vietnam to vocational heart with sights firmly set on Saigon.
Trevor Forrest’s cinematography is carefully choreographed to draw parallels between the films two impoverished locations without forcing crass comparison, staying true to the Vietnam Christina would have experienced in 1989. Despite being a film about western aid, Noble avoids fetishising Vietnam’s poverty, and nor does it shy away from acknowledging the damage that western intrusion can inflict on developing countries. Disturbing scenes in the red light district, real Vietnam War footage and the initial reluctance of the orphanage’s director (Nhu Guyng Nguyen) to accept Noble’s offer of help all preclude any sense that this is a rose-tinted, romanticised outlook.
It is Noble’s voice that triumphs in the end: one powerful sequence sees the voice that sang for her siblings’ supper on the streets of Ireland years before ring out again in Vietnam to acquire a working visa from the government and raise money for the orphaned children. Bradley avoids lapsing into sensationalism through a welcome undercurrent of dry, sharp humour at the more emotional moments in the film's narrative.
Noble's is a tale of a twenty-first century Mother Teresa: a force of nature with a capacity for forgiveness that is truly heart-warming, whose persistence changed the lives of thousands. At times tearfully distressing, comic yet persistently hopeful, Noble does justice to an inspirational story, and one that is well worth telling.
Noble comes to UK cinemas 12 February 2016.
|What||Noble film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
12 Feb 16 – 01 Apr 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the official film website|