At its core Noble is an urgent and emotionally stirring picture…
Rarely does the subject of a biopic earn their name as much as Christina Noble does. If her last name hadn’t already been ‘Noble’ then the film genuinely wouldn’t have felt hyperbolic to have entitled her as such. Telling an extraordinary true story this biopic paints a portrait of Christina Noble as an astonishingly strong willed woman who, after surviving a horrific childhood in which she experienced parental death, homelessness, gang rape and had her child forcibly adopted, sets out to reshape the lives of suffering Vietnamese children. We learn during the film that in total she has helped give shelter and care to over 700,000 children through her and her foundations tireless efforts.
Given the subject matter there is a very real risk that Noble could slip into schmaltz, thankfully however its director and cast manage to keep pretty tight control over the material, even if it does often paint things rather broadly and gives little evaluation of its subject’s arguably blinkered approach to giving care. Nobody can doubt Christina’s incredible spirit but there is still room here for a more exploratory look at her religiously informed self-belief and the impact Western do-gooders can have arriving on foreign soil and spreading their love. Regardless of its viewpoint the film’s director Stephen Bradley makes a good job of dividing up Noble’s life story between three actresses and jumping between time periods in order to allow each aspect of her life to inform and shape our understanding of her and her decisions. Deirdre O’Kane delivers an impassioned and intelligent performance as the adult Christina and Sarah Greene engages with a finely judged turn as the adolescent version of our hero. She impressively finds the fine line between imitating O’Kane and finding her own portrayal of the character, making the film that much richer for her efforts. Bradley also chose very well with the young actress Gloria Cramer Curtis who, in her first feature film performance, captures our hearts with her inherent sweetness and who shows enough dramatic range and promise that indicates a future talent should she choose pursue an acting career.
Passionate and sincere, Noble is a thrilling portrait of an incredible woman. It’s possible that it is so impassioned that it paints her as infallible which does hurt the film, not because we know her to be anything other than an incredibly kind-hearted and strong-willed woman, but because the lack of any criticality inherently somewhat undermines our trust in the film. Still, regardless of its slight flaws this an impressive story that’s well told by its cast and crew. If you know Christina Noble’s story you’ll want to see this iteration of it, and if you’ve never heard of her before then this is a perfectly good place to start.
Noble opens today (12th February) in UK Cinemas, will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!