Noëlle
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (2nd February 2009).
The Film

Living in Salt Lake City, Utah I’ve had an incredible over-exposure to religious movies, television shows and even news. But what this has taught me is that despite the religious difference and infighting between Christian groups, each of their overtly faith-based media is incredibly similar. Each promotes some sort of blatant spiritual message that tries to imitate some sort of real artistic effort with overwhelming religious overtones that just get to be too much. Now these sort of movies shouldn’t be confused with works like Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” (1999) or even the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1973), as these seem just as concerned with story or some other factor rather than a heavy-handed propaganda piece. Rather the faith-movie tries harder to simply reinforce the dogma of religious attitudes through the appearance of story, plot or structure, usually supported by mediocre to terrible acting, writing and directing. “Noëlle” (2007) is one of these movies. Though a quick caveat, if you really really loved “Touched By An Angel” (1994-2003), “God’s Army” (2000-) or “Bible Man” (1996) the film really may be for you, but it’s so far beyond my own personal taste I can’t comprehend it, so just skip the rest and watch “Noëlle.”

For those of you still with me, shame on you for wasting your time since this movie isn’t worth watching. For those of you still with me, “Noëlle” follows a fairly simple religious plot. Father Johnathan Keene (David Wall) plays a Catholic priest tasked with the job of investigating a small town parish to see whether or not it deserves to be kept around or should be shut down. He finds their current priest is a friend of the drink, and the town seems to have problems of it’s own. To try and bring everything and everyone together to save the parish, Keene puts together a nativity pageant to try and bring the community together. He finds some resistance in the town and has a test of faith, sort of.

I cannot emphasize how terribly written this movie is. Many of the lines simply rely upon some sort of faith emphasis or other religious reference to try and keep the audience interested. Since this doesn’t work for me, there’s really nothing left. Thankfully the acting is right on the mark, keeping up with the script in it’s poor execution of an already terrible script. Between the two it’s a heavy handed religious propaganda piece that’s terrible, bumbling and ham-fisted. I don’t mean to be redundant using ham-fisted and bumbling close to each other, but it’s almost as if the writers literally mounted gigantic cuts of ham, taped them around their fingers and started pounding on a keyboard, magically creating a heavily religiously oriented family friendly script that has no real drama or moral conflict, but rather just has a religious context and Christmas.

There is nothing terribly interesting, exciting or worth merit in the film. There’s a lot of moralizing and attempts at comedy, but it’s so terrifyingly heavy handed that there’s nothing really worth laughing at. Honestly all the film makes me think of is the poor writing, directing, acting and all other aspects of the film, while simultaneously reminding me how incredibly frightening I found “Jesus Camp” (2006).

Video

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the video transfer of “Noëlle” isn’t terrible, the film is mostly clean, though there are times where artifacts will pop in or the focus or contrast seems to run out and the image becomes less crisp and clean. Not a terrible transfer, just fairly inconsistent.

Audio

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound comes across as flat and fairly mundane, the soundtrack is just as aggravating as the film itself, so there’s no real surprise that when there’s no good dialogue and no really good music, the sound itself doesn’t particularly work well. Technically it’s okay, the levels for the most part are fine and the audio seems natural though there are times where it seems like some sound effects are either poorly inserted or simply mistimed.
Optional English subtitles are available.

Extras

There are no bonus features on the disc except for some bonus trailers for more 'PG-rated' fare:

- “Hotel for Dogs” runs for 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
- “It’s a Wonderful Life” runs for 35 seconds.
- “The Spiderwick Chronicles” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- “Charlotte’s Web” runs for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Overall

The Film: F Video: C Audio: C Extras: F Overall: D-

 


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