|Category||Comedy Drama||Theatrical Trailer|
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Ayelet Menahemi|
|RPI||$34.95||Music||Haim Frank Ilfman|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
The trailer is the only extra. Better than nothing but only just!
This DVD has been released in Region 1 also. I cannot find any information to suggest whether that version differs from this release.
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.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|