Film review: Miracles from Heaven – Jennifer Garner gives sensitive performance in Christian drama
Based on a memoir by a mother who believes Jesus saved her child from an incurable disease, this film should be a must-see for Christians. Others may find the religious themes weak and preachy
The southern US setting, country pop soundtrack, and modern nonconformist church scenes make it clear that Miracles from Heaven is aimed at Christian audiences in America’s vast Bible Belt. But although the expected preaching does turn up eventually – it has to, or the film wouldn’t have a reason to exist – the bulk of it works as a carefully directed drama.
The story is based on an autobiographical book by Christy Beam. Jennifer Garner stars as Christy, whose daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) suffers from a rare disease that makes it impossible for her to digest food. Mother and daughter visit a Boston-based specialist (Eugenio Derbez) who doesn’t hold out much hope of her surviving. An accident leads to a miracle cure. Was it divine intervention?
Mexican director Patricia Riggen superficially avoids bashing science in the Christian fundamentalist manner, and even offers a get-out clause for the “miracle”, saying that what occurred could be scientifically explained in the future. But this is deceptive, as the film’s emotional content pushes the religious point of view that a miracle has really occurred.
Riggen tamps any melodrama down, helped by a sensitive performance from Garner. The religious thrust – that life is tough to get through and being a Christian makes it a bit easier – is weak, and the film is disturbingly anti-scientific at its core. Miracles from Heaven will only appeal to committed Christians – although if others are dragged along, there’s probably enough drama to wake them up occasionally.
Miracles from Heaven opens on April 7
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