An inspiring story of faith
Noble (PG-13) tells the dramatic true story of Christina Noble, who overcomes a harsh childhood in Ireland to give her life to helping abandoned children.
Overcome by how many children are in need of care and protection, particularly from sex traffickers, Christina eventually convinces donors to help create a ministry.
The film moves between scenes of Christina’s life growing up in Ireland and her arrival in Vietnam in 1989, 14 years after the end of the war. Different actors portray her as a child, as a young adult, and as an older adult, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City with only a few dollars and unsure why she is even there. Years earlier, she has a dream about Vietnam, a country she “wouldn’t be able to show you on a map,” and it sticks with her.
Christina grows up in poverty in Dublin. Her mother dies when she’s young, and her father is alcoholic and hits his wife. Christina is a talented singer and shows great resilience. When her father agrees to have her and her siblings removed from the home and sent to a Catholic orphanage, she escapes briefly and goes to a pub and sings. Captured, she endures harsh punishment from the nuns at the orphanage, a scene which feels clichéd.
As a young adult, she is on her own and gets a job in a factory, where she meets a woman who becomes a close friend. She survives a gang rape (not shown), loses her job, and is taken to a Catholic shelter. There she gives birth to a boy, who is taken from her and given up for adoption.
Later, she marries, has three children, and finally leaves her abusive husband.
This litany of suffering is all backstory to the amazing work Christina does later. Despite her experiences, she retains a faith in God. The film offers several scenes of her talking frankly to God, sometimes in a church, sometimes on her bed. While the film doesn’t dwell on her religious faith, it also doesn’t provide much explanation of how she remains faithful, given all that life—and the church—has done to her. We’re supposed to just accept that this is how she is.
After she arrives in Vietnam, she notices children on the street and begins caring for them. One day, she happens by an orphanage and convinces the Vietnamese woman who runs it to let her work there.
Overcome by how many children are in need of care and protection, particularly from sex traffickers, she eventually convinces donors to give her funds, and she creates a ministry that has now reached hundreds of thousands of children throughout Asia.
Despite the description above of Christina’s life growing up, the film isn’t as hard-hitting as it might have been. It lacks the gritty realism that a film with better production values or a different director might have brought. This tamer approach, I imagine, is intentional, since the film is geared to a more conservative audience.
And while it aims to present a message of faith, it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Christina is clearly a woman of faith, though it’s not clear how that happened. Inarguably, however, hers is an inspiring story.
Noble is available on DVD.