|Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam. (c) TriStar Pictures.|
The question remains -- is this one a hit or a miss?
And the very short answer is this is a HIT. For a slightly longer response, might I say that Miracles from Heaven is a MUST SEE if you or anyone you care about has ever battled a life-altering disease, questioned where God is in all the mess of life or just loves a good tear jerker (BRING THE KLEENEX).
|Miracles from Heaven. (c) Sony Pictures.|
Let's start with the major question most anyone is going to have -- how cheesy, questionable and over the top is the "miracle"? Allow me to preface this by saying that the miracle does not happen until over seventy-five minutes into the film and by the time 10 year old Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers) is healed, the film has hopefully moved the audience beyond the rudamentory question Christy (Jennifer Garner) asks Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez):
"Can you tell me how? Can you explain it to me?" - Christy BeamAnd you're nodding your head in agreement with Dr. Nurko when he says that he "can't medically say" that little Anna has been cured. We cannot explain the healing or what happened in the trunk of the tree. Some of us will agree it has to be a miracle, others will just shake our heads in amazement and still others might be skeptical of the Beam family account.
|Eugenio Derbez, Kylie Rogers, Jennifer Garner. (c) Sony Pictures.|
The film centers primarily on the relationship between mother and daughter (Garner & Rogers) and their interactions with father Kevin (Martin Henderson), sisters (Brighton Sharbino, Courtney Fansler), good Samaritan (Queen Latifah), Boston Children's Hospital staff and their home pastor (John Carroll Lynch). The chemistry is palpable between Garner and Rogers and I only wish the two women will be acknowledged by some film awards committee for their heart-wrenching performances.
Jennifer Garner's portrayal of Christy Beam is believable and strong. She is a mother who will not take no for an answer and doesn't hesitate to take her dying daughter to Boston without an appointment. If her daughter needs to see the best doctors in the world then she will move heaven and earth to make it happen. What woman cannot relate to her struggle and strength?
|Queen Latifah, Kylie Rogers, Jennifer Garner. (c) Sony Pictures.|
As I said, this is primarily Christy and Anna's story but Martin Henderson deserves a huge shout out for his supporting role as father Kevin. He is stuck at home supporting the family, paying medical bills, caring for the other two children in what might be thought of as a thankless role. But really what an outstanding performance by an often overlooked actor. His eyes are like a window into the soul of his character. Watching him fight to keep his family together and get through this indescribable ordeal is mesmerizing especially because he does it with such a quiet grace.
Boston Children's Hospital should be paying Eugenio Derbez a salary just to represent them in this film. He does a fabulous job portraying Dr. Nurko (and by extension all of Boston Children's Hospital) as wise, loving, child-friendly, supportive of families, warmhearted and the best in his field. Queen Latifah's appearance in the Boston scenes coupled with Derbez' performance offers some much needed comical relief during this otherwise non-stop tearjerker.
As someone who is myself struggling with a hard-to-explain disease (by no means on the same level as Anna's!) I found myself especially relating to this film's story and rallying behind the Beam family. And if my friends and readers have a spare couple hours this Easter/Passover season, might I recommend a visit to see Miracles from Heaven? Don't let the fact that it is about a "miracle" turn you off, o skeptical ones. Trust me, I was one of those skeptics! And if you are worried it will be preachy, rest assured that Sony Pictures has done a great job of finding pieces that include a Christian message without being overtly preachy or riddled with a poor script/soundtrack. Much like their 2014 Moms' Night Out, there are several scenes in church and a few brief talks about God but no hammer is being wielded. There are real people being depicted with real struggles and real concerns. Life for believers isn't cookie-cutter and neither is this film. The only questionable moment for me was a rather lengthy montage mid-film to a Third Day rock song (Your Words). I liked the montage but it could probably have been cut by half.
So do yourself and your family a favor and grab a box of Kleenex, curl up together at the cinema and see Miracles from Heaven. And then give each other a big hug no matter your beliefs and be so grateful that "everyday is a miracle".
Title: Miracles from Heaven
Release Date: 16 March 2016 (United States/Canada/Philippines), 10 June 2016 (United Kingdom)
Rating: PG (for thematic material, including accident and medical images)
Stars: Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, Queen Latifah, Eugenio Derbez
Distributed by Columbia Pictures (Philippines), Sony Pictures & TriStar Pictures