I wasn’t sure what to expect from Noble, the story of an Irish woman who I’d never heard of. But in the opening vignette, the elementary school-aged Christina Noble (Gloria Cramer Curtis) sings, and her Irish lilt captured my attention. As Noble gets older, she’s played by Sarah Greene as a young woman and Deirdre O’Kane as a middle-aged woman. But she always sings, and her tortured soul seeking purpose and calling is quite moving. Stephen Bradley’s script carries us Time Traveler’s Wife-style through the time loop of those times, back and forth, to show us how Noble became the woman she is today. It is remarkable, lyrical, and, ultimately, faithful.
The film is ultimately a story of how we deal with our pain, and a story of one woman’s perseverance to keep others from experiencing her fate. It’s sad really: Noble is abandoned and verbally abused by her alcoholic father (Liam Cunningham), who leaves her to care for her other siblings as a very small child. She’s gang-raped by a group of men, solely because she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a young adult, she’s verbally, emotionally, and physically abused by her husband. Throughout her story, she’s subjected to the particular of tough, unbending love of the nuns who are forced into caring for her.
But Christina Noble is noble. She is one of those people who is able to find a way to stand regardless of how bad the situation gets. At one point, she walks into a Catholic church and prays, “I’ll walk, you lead.” She knows she doesn’t know what to pray or why this bad stuff has happened to her, but she’s still throwing herself on the goodness of God for support and providence. Noble is a faithful person, even when the people around her don’t show her the best in humanity or a reason to believe.
Noble believes because she has had a vision. Having had a vision of Vietnam on fire in her twenties, Noble believes she is called to work with children being abandoned. It seems similar to what she experienced as a child- children being abandoned – but it’s in a country she’s never been to or even really heard of. While Noble doesn’t go immediately, she does go. Noble’s nobility is secure in her understanding of who God is and what God wants for her life. She knows she should serve, so she goes.
Bradley’s film tells her story beautifully, setting us up to see the way she’s become a historical Mother Theresa to Vietnam’s orphans, still working to find homes and keep them safe today. O’Kane is excellent and powerful in her passionate portrayal of this real-life hero.
Everyone should see this movie, and ask themselves what God is calling them to. Are we called to serve where we are or go somewhere else? Are we people who see visions and go, or do we fail to accept that God is calling us, calling us to serve the poor and abandoned, and stay in our comfort zone instead?
Noble says God is calling, and it’s up to us to listen.