I’ve not beheld a parted sea
Or outlived an emergency.
I’ve never seen a patient healed
Or glimpsed divine eternity.
I’ve never viewed a battlefield
With some celestial might revealed.
I wish I had, for maybe then
My faith in God would be more sealed.
Despite the things beyond my ken,
I’ve seen the warmth and faith of men,
And maybe that’s a miracle
Worth noticing time and again.
MPAA rating: PG
I had considered watching Risen or The Young Messiah for Easter, but the only faith-based film with a good show time (and an A+ CinemaScore) was Miracles from Heaven, which I’m rather glad I ended up seeing. I wasn’t won over by Heaven Is For Real, the previous film from producers T.D. Jakes and Joe Roth; it was an intriguing story but not one to sustain a full-length film, and the conflict felt forced coming from supposed people of faith. While that film showed a child’s heavenly vision early on and focused on people’s reactions, Miracles from Heaven does better in leaving it for the climax and focusing on a more relatable crisis of faith, with a far better chance for both smiles and tears.
Based on the true story of the Beam family from Burleson, Texas, the film depicts the family of five as real people whose faith is just one part of their lives. The parents flirt with each other; one daughter is obsessed with Taylor Swift; and another has a passion for soccer championships. Tragedy is the last thing they expect or deserve. Jennifer Garner outdoes herself as Christy Beam, who lives every parent’s worst nightmare when her daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) is diagnosed with a severe and incurable gastrointestinal disease. Already stressed financially, she must endure constant worry, hospital waiting lists, incompetent doctors who won’t do more, competent doctors who can’t do more, and a host of unanswered prayers. Skeptics aren’t the only ones who question the goodness of God when bad things happen, and Christy’s faith becomes buried in feelings of grief and abandonment. Why did this have to happen to a sweet little girl? No one can offer her answers.
Obviously, the title indicates that something miraculous happens, but it’s more than that. In following this mother and daughter to their darkest point, moments of light shine out the brighter. Queen Latifah plays a kind waitress who befriends them while away from home and offers needed comic relief, and Eugenio Derbez is splendid as a Patch Adams-style child specialist who balances cheerful encouragement with inner knowledge that most of his patients will die. In these and many more side characters, the film reminds us that big miracles come from God, but small ones can originate in those random acts of kindness of which anyone is capable.
Doubt is everyone’s first reaction to miracles, and the film doesn’t forget that, nor does it try to explain why some people are so blessed while others are not. Miracles are rare but no less extraordinary, and for those willing, the unexplainable can remind people of hope when they have none. Miracles from Heaven has a few moments of familiar Christian themes that might get atheists rolling their eyes, but it’s an inspiring, well-acted, and emotional tale with which anyone who believes or hopes in miracles can identify.
Best line: (Christy) “Miracles are God’s way of telling us He’s here.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2016 S. G. Liput
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