There are few movies centered on Christianity that are able to balance story-moving dialogue and overall cinematic excellence. “Miracles from Heaven” managed to do just that.
Receiving a 53 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer, “Miracles from Heaven” is an emotional ride that follows the journey of the Beams—a family of five living in Burleson—as they deal with their 10-year-old daughter Anna’s severe digestive disease. The movie focuses on the difficulty of maintaining faith when things go horribly wrong.
Anna, played by Kylie Rogers, is a playful and eager young girl made a little less believable by her sugary sweet disposition. Anna’s character is left a little underdeveloped, however, because the story focuses more on the spiritual journey of her mother, Christy. Jennifer Garner gave a solid performance as Christy, although her affected southern accent was jarring at times. She was exceptional in her portrayal of a mother grasping for answers and the help of a God who doesn’t seem to care.
Although it is marked by numerous emotional climaxes, “Miracles from Heaven” does find some comic relief in the form of Angela, a Boston waitress played by Queen Latifah. Her warm personality is a welcome relief from the constant physical and emotional turmoil felt by the rest of the characters.
“Miracles from Heaven” is no miracle for the cinematic world, although it does a far better job with artistry and cinematography than many of its predecessors in the Christian movie industry, like “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof.”
The film score is mostly orchestral and suits the tone of the movie beautifully. There was, thankfully, a dearth of contemporary Christian songs in the film which helped it feel more like a movie and less like a church production.
The overarching storyline is driven by the progression of Anna’s illness and her parents’ growing anxiety when no one seems to be taking them seriously. The medical doctors they do consult take a patronizing tone and tell the parents to trust the professionals. Whether or not that’s a jab at the apparent lack of personal attention doctors pay to their patients is up to the audience to decide. But it is doubtless that the audience cheered when a particularly exasperated doctor had to swallow his pride and admit he had misdiagnosed Anna’s illness.
Although the movie is about a Christian family, it does nothing to make the church seem idyllic. One group of well-meaning churchgoers tells Anna’s parents that they or Anna must have sinned in some way to make her sick. That, in addition to her dwindling faith on account of Anna’s pain, cause Christy to leave the church entirely. After Anna’s accident and healing, another member of the church questions whether or not she was even sick to start with. Overall, the portrayal of Christians is more raw and accurate than many other movies with Christian themes: it shows that they are all flawed and struggle just like everyone else.