Miracles From Heaven
Starring Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, Eugenio Derbez
Similar to what we saw in Heaven is For Real (2014), Miracles From Heaven is another film, adapted from a book, following the true story of a sick child, visiting Heaven. These films certainly have good intentions, they are impossible to hate. It’s the studio influence that reinforces stereotypes (the father can’t go into his daughters room and console her like “mommy” can) or clichés (the black hip-hop waitress with a beat up car), that make Miracles From Heaven only appealing to a specific, narrow-minded audience (i.e. preaching to the choir). Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club) delivers an appropriate performance as a devastated mother, losing faith over the declining health of her daughter, yet for all the tormented facial expressions, we never actually see her shed a tear.
“It’s a good life,” Kevin Beam (Henderson) tells his wife Christy (Garner). The Beam family are a bit tight with money after the debut of Kevin’s large, one of a kind, versatile animal clinic, in their home town of Burleson, Texas. Christy is a stay at home mom with three children. They attend church regularly but when middle child Anna (Rogers) contracts a disorder rendering her unable to process food, the Beam family fears the worst when told there is no cure. 10-year-old Anna is in constant pain, and the doctors offer no hope. Her faith slipping, Christy and Anna fly to Boston, without an appointment, to see a renowned specialist in hopes of a miracle.
These films certainly have good intentions, they are impossible to hate.
Director Patricia Riggin (The 33) shows The Beam’s living “high on the horse” as they say in Texas with a big house, big ranch, three kids, nice vehicles and a stay at home mom. For an objectionable viewer, it’s hard to watch Christy argue about money when she isn’t employed. The film seems to say that when Christy re-connects with her faith, then Anna can be healed, and who am I to say that isn’t the case. I believe miracles are all around us, however this film want’s to present them the way Lifetime Movie Network does, on the nose. “Somebody’s sins are preventing Anna from getting better,” the nosey red head (stereotype) in the church congregation says to Christy.
The message of Christianity should be universal, but many times, especially the believers forget to look beyond their small part of the world. In one scene, Christy says, “Why would a loving God let Annabelle suffer like this”. Which translates: He is a loving God when my children are ok, and people I don’t know are suffering. This story isn’t about Christy’s evolution of faith, although it would be a much stronger and more powerful film if it was. The screenplay, and I am assuming her book, focuses on the disorder, the daughters brush with death, and the unexplained accident on the tree that changed everything. Exactly like Heaven is for Real, Miracles From Heaven feels the needs to visualize Heaven which always does an injustice to the viewer whose own imagination of God’s kingdom is likely more powerful than anything on the screen.
Good intentions only get you so far when you paint with stereotypes and clichés.