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Sony Pictures Classics

Higher Ground

Movies | Christian viewers should entertain this film with caution but with appreciation for showing a real person trying to find a true God

Issue: "All tied up," Sept. 24, 2011

In her directional debut, Vera Farmiga explores a woman's search for true faith. Farmiga stars as Corinne Miller, who answers Jesus' "knock at her heart" as a girl and then spends her life waiting for Him to make Himself at home. She marries, births three children, and supports her local church while wrestling with a painful disconnect between real life and religious rhetoric.

Farmiga transports the viewer into the hilarious lives of zealous Christians trying to "live right" while juxtaposing them with authentic human experiences like suffering, temptation, and broken families. Some of these real life scenes are sexual, another reflects drug possession (not usage), and others contain profanity-hence the R rating. Eventually, Corinne becomes discontent with the lack of depth to the spirituality offered by her church-especially when it means glossing over painful loss and marital hardships with comfortable church clichés.

Viewers should be prepared for a film that poignantly reflects a story of interior conflict. This film does not try to provide simple answers to Corinne's suffering or angst. Instead, it is designed to reflect Corinne's spiritual discontent and her search for something higher, deeper.

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Farmiga explores this search without compromising artistic depth: The dialogue and character development are both strong and believable. Dagmara Dominczyk (The Count of Monte Cristo) gives an endearing performance as Corinne's best friend. Bill Irwin (Lady in the Water) masters pastoral behavior with ease while Nina Arianda (Midnight in Paris) adds real-life texture and humor as the wayward sister and confused "outsider" in Corinne's church.

Farmiga portrays Corinne's church as theologically insufficient, but she handles questions of faith and spirituality with humor and artistry without undermining either of them. Christian viewers should entertain it with caution but also with appreciation for Farmiga's ability to show a real person trying to find a true God that is compatible with real life.

Tiffany Owens
Tiffany Owens

Tiffany is a correspondent for WORLD News Group.

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