Noodle (2007)

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Released 4-May-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 97:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ayelet Menahemi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Mili Avital
BaoQi Chen
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Haim Frank Ilfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The by-line for Noodle, a 2007 Israeli film, is : Life is full of surprises. That may be a glib and vague description of the film but it does adequately describe how, from time to time, a real charmer of a film can slip through the mainstream net. For Noodle is a particularly effective drama/comedy with an excellent central performance from Mili Avital.

     To reap the rewards of the film you first have to get past the premise. Avital plays Miri, a flight attendant on El Al airlines. She lives in a flat with her sister Gila Anat Waxman who is separated from her husband Izzy and her teenage daughter. Izzy just happens to live next door! Miri has had worse luck with men; both of her husbands died in the Israeli wars (Lady Bracknell would no doubt have something to say about that!).

     On an ordinary day Miri's cleaner, a young Chinese woman, pleads with her to look after her young son for "just one hour". When the hour turns into night Miri realises she knows very little about the cleaner and tries to track her down. Meanwhile the young boy, whom they have dubbed Noodles, is silent and disconsolate. He doesn't speak Hebrew and the women don't speak Mandarin. On speaking to Customs they are told that like so many illegal immigrants the mother was arrested and sent back to China. What to do? Hand over the kid to the authorities? Problem- the mother was an illegal immigrant but Noodles was born in Israel so he is neither Chinese nor Israeli.

     A chance encounter with an old friend who does speak some Mandarin gives some hope that the pair might be re-united. It is also the source of some simmering jealousy between the sisters over old flames, even the docile Izzy who seems more interested in Miri than his former wife.

     The bare plot description doesn't do justice to this rich and complex film. Importantly, director/co-writer Ayelet Menahemi steers well wide of mawkishness. Heaven help us if the film is re-made in Hollywood as it has the potential for rivers of treacle. Instead, the relationship between Miri and Noodles is one of necessity and only slowly does the boy begin to treat her like a mother as the damaged goods air hostess takes on a maternal role. Although the final act of the film may strain credulity, it is tense and eminently watchable.

     The cast is uniformly good including newcomer BaoQi Chen as Noodles. The film was nominated for several awards in the Israeli Film Academy but mainly lost out to the more populous The Band's Visit. Waxman did, however, win as the prickly sister. Mili Avital is something of a world actress, just as happy in American films (Dead Man, Kissing A Fool) and TV shows (Law & Order SVU and Damages). Her first break came as the female "lead" in the original movie of Stargate. She is a beautiful and talented performer getting to the bottom of this complex character and enriching the part. All drama lovers will find something to like in Noodle.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Noodle was shot on 16mm film and blown up to 35mm for cinematic release. The DVD transfer is at the cinematic 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The decision to shoot in 16mm was obviously intentional. The driving force may have been one of economics. The effect is as you would imagine. The image is soft and there is grain about. It takes an adjustment of the eyes to slip into the less than stellar picture quality but, once made, the issues are not a constant distraction.

     Besides the grain and issues referred to above the print is pretty good. The picture lacks sharpness and the colours are a little washed out but reasonably stable.

     There are removable yellow subtitles in English for non-Hebrew speakers. The film also features Mandarin dialogue. It is generally not subtitled as the point of view remains with Miri who cannot speak that language.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Noodle carries a Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224 Kb/s.

     This is perfectly adequate for a film that consists mainly of dialogue. Surround sound would not have added much to the impact of the film. The dialogue is clearly spoken and would not present a problem to Hebrew speakers. The actors appear to be in audio sync.

     The score is by Haim Frank Ilfman. It combines moving themes for Miri, principally solo piano, and jauntier, whimsical themes for the "getting to know you" stuff with the boy. An attractive and complementary score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (2.17)

     The trailer is the only extra. Better than nothing but only just!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This DVD has been released in Region 1 also. I cannot find any information to suggest whether that version differs from this release.

Summary

     Noodle is a rare delight, an unexpected quality drama with comedy that moves from the heart without any cloying sentimentality. The production values are in keeping with the 16mm origin of the film. Distracting at first but quickly moving beyond annoyance.

     Well worth a watch.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, July 02, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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