MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Sony Pictures
Directed by Patricia Riggen. Starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rodgers
It seems as if every faith-based film these days has a major spoiler in its title that gives the story away (i.e. Risen, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is for Real) so it’s no surprise that this movie has a miracle or two in store for the viewer. Miracles from Heaven is based on a bestselling nonfiction book from last year in which Christy Beam (Garner) told the compelling story of how her Christian family’s faith was tested when their daughter Annabel (Rodgers) developed a rare and extremely painful intestinal disorder that made it virtually impossible for her body to process food.
This happy and prosperous Texas family discovers how quickly medical trials can turn your world upside down. Anna is diagnosed and misdiagnosed over and over again, with procedures that fail to produce long-lasting results and medical and travel bills that just won’t quit. I was reminded of the woman in Luke’s gospel who came to Jesus for healing after twelve years of futility.
As Anna cries out in pain, her mother keeps seeking a cure. Christy reads on the Internet about Dr. Samuel Nurko (Eugenio Derbez) a pediatric gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, but he is overscheduled and his office is not returning her calls. What’s a mother to do?
Although, in pure cinematic terms, Miracles from Heaven plays like a very good Lifetime movie, it is the outstanding commitment of Jennifer Garner to the role of Christy Beam that raises this film to a higher level. She is matched beat for beat by Kylie Rodgers who delivers a heartbreaking performance as a child in pain trying her hardest to be brave and faithful. Long-term illness is exactly the way it is pictured in this movie; it is exhausting, difficult, and costly. The film does not rush through these medical scenes which dominate the first hour of the movie. Healthy children in the family often feel neglected when there is so much attention paid to the sick child and many marriages cannot hold together under this kind of sustained stress.
The local church in which the Beams belong is depicted as imperfect and yet on the right pathway, trusting God to help them get over the occasional speed bumps of judgment from sceptical believers. Having Third Day as your worship team certainly doesn’t hurt!
Eventually some miracles do occur but the film is still full of surprises and grace notes. The secular press (with a few notable exceptions) has incorrectly labelled Miracles from Heaven as just another cookie-cutter Christian flick that “preaches to the choir” (Rotten Tomatoes). It is far better than that. It will give you much to think about and help you to look at the world not simply as a Christ follower who expects miracles to naturally happen, but as a person of faith who understands that the pathway of healing can be complicated and messy (and sometimes healing doesn’t happen at all), but in all things God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
Five halos: An inspirational film that rises beyond expectations due to great performances and an intelligent script.
One pitchfork: A child battling a painful disease will likely upset most children under 12.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
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