With the exception of To Save A Life my knowledge of recent Christian films could be called limited at best. I'll be honest, I just sort of gave up on the whole genre with it's cheesy lines and pat explanations. I want some depth to my movies or at the very least some laughs and escape.
When I heard the premise of Miracles from Heaven - a young family who's middle daughter Annabel is diagnosed with a rare and severe digestive disorder who is miraculously cured - I knew this could be the movie to change my track record . . . and I was right, from the get go Miracles from Heaven had my attention and my heartstrings.
Now don't get me wrong, there were some dreadfully cheesy parts (I'm looking at you sermon illustrations during the first church scene) but even those seemed to fit and add to the pastor's character more than being a defaulting genre stereotype. I mean, I'll be the first to admit I've laughed over similarly cheesy illustrations myself it seems to be a very popular style for some.
That said, I really found myself blown away by the quality of this movie.
The visual set ups were gorgeous and the lighting definitely added to the overall feel of the movie.
I love it when the shots, lighting, and setting all help to enhance the characters (let's not get started on the soundtrack because there was some major fan girl squealing when I saw Mac Powell adding to the soundtrack and some flashbacks back to high school, I'm hoping the soundtrack has more than just the score).
How do I even begin to talk about them (without giving spoilers). I've always been drawn to stories based on real life, probably because the characters are naturally more complex. But Jennifer Gardner and Kylie Rogers playing Christy and Annabel Beam respectively made this movie! Their acting was superb and they had a very believable chemistry as a mother/daughter duo. I also enjoyed how honestly the ups and downs of Christy and Kevin's relationship were portrayed and the quiet strength Martin Henderson brought to the role.
The plot itself was beautifully constructed. I was very impressed by how comfortable the writers were including difficult questions and leaving those questions open ended. Discussions on suffering, unanswered prayers, and relationships were all weaved in a way that, while some may find a bit heavy handed, honestly felt like conversations I have seen and participated in right down to the simple but honest "I don't know" which is sometimes the only answer that can be given.
Viewers are also given an honest, albeit quick (given the film's focus on Christy and Anna) at the struggles a family faces when a life threatening diagnosis enters the picture. From stress on the marriage, to extra hours and sacrifices financially, to missed opportunities for siblings this film tried to pain a broader picture of how the family responds as a whole to a crisis.
Not to mention this made for a great final montage during Christy's address to the church regarding miracles the quickly brought tears to my eyes. Yet, writers also balanced this with the unexpected joys such as the unexpected friendship of Angela (played by Queen Latifah), the immeasurable joys of spending time together after being apart, and the strength of a 6 year old who offers to forego pizza to support her sister.
Miracles from Heaven is a heartwarming and authentic film that can easily be watched with almost the family. While younger children may not understand the severity of certain topics and may be frightened by Anna's fall down the tree, for other members of the family this is a solid movie everyone can watch and enjoy while opening up room for discussion surrounding serious issues of life and faith.
Movie has been provided courtesy of Sony Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."