I...am not religious.
Confession time, though: I...have never seen a so-called faith-based movie. At least I don’t think I have. Not even, you know, by chance.
Always a first for just about everything, right?
That is why I went to see Jennifer Garner’s Miracles from Heaven, although, if truth be told, mostly because I think the fairer half of the couple formerly known as Garfleck absolutely should have a good March, too. Ben Affleck cannot be the only showing up at the box office this spring.
Directed by The 33’s Patricia Riggen, Miracles from Heaven, as you can guess, is the real-life-based story of the Beams, a good ol’ family from Burleson, Texas, and the incredible event that touched their lives after 10-year-old middle daughter Anna, played by Kylie Rogers, from TV’s The Whispers, receives her cross to bear for the sake of the plot, when she suddenly becomes ill. Incurably so.
Gorgeously highlighted Garner plays mom, Christy – who wrote the memoir that provides the movie its hope eternal – winningly and with unwavering kindness, while Martin Henderson (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy), plays her husband, Kevin. (Last seen looking at the flowers on a certain cult hit on cable, Brighton Sharbino plays their eldest, btw.)
The Beams go through it when Anna begins having tummy troubles. She’s ultimately diagnosed with a painful, faith-testing chronic disorder that requires that she eat using feeding tubes; keep from doing all the normal, fun things kids her age do; begin taking increasingly stressful regular trips to Boston with mommy, to see a pediatric gastroenterologist (Eugenio Derbez) well known around the world, who can make her comfortable but not, you know, heal her.
Miracles from Heaven spends a lot of time chronicling the ordeal, which illuminates what the Beams must have gone through in actuality earlier this decade. The script, by Randy Brown (Trouble with the Curve), does not dwell on the religious; sure, God and the church do factor into the life of the family, but it is all much more...driven by a sense of community and belonging (or lack thereof) than anything else.
This makes the movie feel...accessible and welcoming for a secular sunovagun like yours truly – and I can appreciate that, alright. Garner & Co. made me want to connect to something there for a moment. Perhaps, one day I will, but, in the meantime, I am just going to have to wonder why they could not find more for Queen Latifah to do. The Oscar nominee pops up as a woman Christy and Anna befriend during one of their trips up to Boston, a great support that does not transcend characteristic archetypes, for some reason.
Maybe, Riggen felt the focus should remain on Anna and her touched-by moment, which comes after she falls into a hollow tree. When she is saved (by a tree of life), it becomes clear that this one is not about what can be explained but by what can be felt.
Good enough for Christy and her family, but not for moi – and this has nothing to do with my faith. It is my taste for a yarn well spun, and this one gets close.
No cigar, though. Just some warm fuzzies that did not make me a believer. More of an...interested party.
My Rating **1/2
Photo: Columbia Pictures.