Christina Noble, whose turbulent upbringing in Ireland informed her later life as a children's rights advocate aiding street kids in Vietnam, gets the biopic treatment with the uneven but nonetheless emotionally gratifying "Noble."
Born in the slums of Dublin, Noble was no stranger to orphanages and homelessness herself — not to mention rape, teenage pregnancy and an abusive marriage with three children — all well before turning 30.
Despite her hardscrabble formative years, the indefatigable Noble (played, chronologically, by Gloria Cramer Curtis, Sarah Greene and Deirdre O'Kane) pursued a path to Vietnam in 1989 that had initially manifested itself in a vivid dream.
Director-screenwriter Stephen Bradley has seen fit to accommodate all the key moments in Noble's eventful life by constantly alternating between her humanitarian efforts in Ho Chi Minh City, where she's called as Mama Tina, and her earlier years in Ireland.
While making a very clear connection between her own life and the lives of those forgotten Vietnamese kids, that constant flip-flopping ultimately denies the film a richer spiritual trajectory.
And though some of the heated exchanges play out like dramatic re-creations, each of the talented actresses brings a convincing compassion to the singular Noble's cause.
MPAA rating: PG-13, for mature thematic material, including violent and sexual situations.
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8.