In the early 1950s, Christina Noble (Gloria Cramer Curtis), a young girl from a poor part of Dublin, Ireland, aspires to be a singer when she grows up. She prays and lights candles to Our Lady to care for her sick mother. When she dies, her father, Thomas (Liam Cunningham), an alcoholic, loses custody of the children, and the courts send them to separate institutions.
At 17, Christina finishes school, but more hardships follow when she is raped. Friends bring her to the nuns for care. But Christina is pregnant, and the nuns make her sign a registration form that includes an adoption clause. She is devastated when her son is taken from her.
Christina never stops praying as the years go by. She goes to England in the late ’60s to work, and meets a young man who is setting up a chain of restaurants. They marry and have a child, but the union is fragile. By now it is the early 1970s and the war in Vietnam is raging. She dreams of helping the children there.
It takes Christina (played as an adult by Deirdre O’Kane) until 1989, but eventually she makes it to Vietnam. She looks around and sees homeless children wandering the streets and Westerners there for the sex trade. Christina manages to find funding from oil companies investing in Vietnam, and works the system to set up homes for children.
Watching this small, independent film is like opening a gift and finding something precious inside. It’s inspired by Christina Noble’s extraordinary life, and it is truly one of heroic faith against incredible misfortune. Her steely perseverance in prayer—and her struggle to be an authentic woman in an abusive world while caring for poor children in Ho Chi Minh City—is inspiring and incredible.
I love Christina’s prayer life. She talks to God in a tough manner because she truly believes.
Not yet rated, PG-13 ■ Mature themes and situations, peril.
Marie Heurtin (Ariana Rivoire) was born blind and deaf in France in 1885. When she is 14 years old, her father (Gilles Treton) brings her to the Larnay Institute, near Poitiers, where the nuns care for and teach deaf girls. But the Mother Superior (Brigitte Catillon) is unwilling to take on a wild child such as Marie.
But Sister Marguerite (Isabelle Carré) feels inspired to teach Marie—to free her imprisoned soul. She writes in her journal that teaching the young child may be why God called her to religious life.
With Marie back at the school, Marguerite must find a way to communicate because the girl’s behavior frightens everyone. Months pass with little or no progress until Marie allows herself to be bathed and to have her hair brushed.
Marie’s Story is based on a true account of a young girl and her teacher—not unlike Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Sister Marguerite’s health is not good, and she must teach this young girl about faith and heaven in ways never done before.
Director Jean-Pierre Améris and cinematographer Virginie Saint-Martin have created a beautiful sensory version of Marie’s life, letting us glimpse the inner reality of a vibrant soul.
A-2, not yet rated ■ Mature themes.
When fracking—the extraction of natural gas by drilling and injecting water and toxic cancer-causing chemicals at high pressure— began in the United States around 2012, energy companies told consumers it was a way to find alternative clean fuels. This has proven not to be the case, as director Renard Cohen’s amazing documentary demonstrates in chilling—and heartbreaking—detail.
People in Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania tell of the impact of fracking on the health of communities because wells are built too close to homes and schools. Children and adults have developed health issues such as rashes, gastrointestinal and respiratory problems, and tumors. People bought property and were not told that the chemical rights had already been sold to others, thus destroying land value and the environment.
If there is any good news in all of this, it is how communities are coming together to push back against energy giants such as Halliburton and government agencies that permit fracking to take place. Groundswell Rising shows what people can do when they work together for positive change.
Not yet rated ■ Mature themes.