NEW YORK (CNS) — The fact-based drama “Miracles From Heaven” (Columbia) tells a remarkable story.
Though director Patricia Riggen’s screen version of Christy Beam’s 2015 memoir is clearly designed for believers — and sometimes feels padded — even dedicated skeptics may have trouble dismissing its underlying narrative.
A wife and the mother of three daughters, Christy (Jennifer Garner) is going about her everyday life in the Fort Worth area of Texas when tragedy strikes without warning: Her 10-year-old middle daughter Annabel (Kylie Rogers) develops an unexplained but seemingly unshakable illness.
Alarmed, Christy refuses to accept the series of more or less casually delivered misdiagnoses from unfocused doctors with which she’s presented. And eventually, the grim truth emerges. Annabel’s symptoms are identified as stemming from pediatric chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, or CIPO, a rare, painful and incurable condition that prevents the body from digesting food.
Persistent Christy now focuses on obtaining the care of one of the few specialists in CIPO, Dr. Samuel Nurko (Eugenio Derbez). However, although kindly and caring, Dr. Nurko proves powerless to combat the disease — and Annabel’s death sentence stands.
Although Christy and her easygoing veterinarian husband, Kevin (Martin Henderson), are dedicated churchgoers — John Carroll Lynch plays their good-humored pastor — Christy’s faith crumbles in the face of Annabel’s current torment and impending demise. She finds herself unable to pray. She’s also deeply angered by the misguided notions of some fellow parishioners who seem to entertain a pre-Christian understanding of the connection between sin and misfortune.
Yet a startling, almost inexplicable, turnaround awaits Christy — one which is certainly providential if not indeed miraculous.
Though it may be aimed at a self-selecting audience of the already convinced, screenwriter Randy Brown’s script minimizes neither its protagonist’s crisis of doubt nor the larger mystery of innocent suffering.
The dialogue also takes a wide view of what counts as a divinely inspired marvel, highlighting the above-and-beyond kindness shown to Christy and her clan by an ensemble of secondary characters. The most significant of these is Angela (Queen Latifah), a gregarious waitress who takes an instant — and cheering — shine to Annabel.
While squeaky clean as far as the normal array of objectionable elements is concerned, “Miracles From Heaven” nonetheless includes both subjects and sights that make it inappropriate for the youngest viewers.
The film contains mature themes as well as potentially upsetting incidents and medical procedures. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103