The producers of the surprising Heaven Is for Real offer audiences a similar slice with the pleasant yet generic Miracles from Heaven.
Unlike the superior Heaven Is for Real, Miracles from Heaven is scattered. Director Patricia Riggen (The 33) and screenwriter Randy Brown (Trouble with the Curve) hover over two possible narratives: medical drama and faith-based fodder. The duo hesitate to dive too deep into a specific genre in order to fairly balance both story types. However, since the film skates on the surface, the noncommittal approach doesn’t allow Riggen to officially meet the film’s core. It’s undoubtably moving (especially during a final heartstring-tugging sermon), but Miracles from Heaven is clean-cut and censored.
Patricia Riggen’s finest moments are during heavenly interpretations. They resemble fantastic dreams that merge with other, equally entrancing images. I would definitely like to see what the filmmaker could do with a film along the lines of Bridge to Terabithia.
Miracles from Heaven also isn’t anchored by a resonating performance. Jennifer Garner plays the role of Christy Beam, a mother witnessing her daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) endure painful health issues. Garner is very convincing as a supportive, stressed parent who is facing challenges with her own faith during these traumatic times. While Garner’s performance is solid, she isn’t really given time to make her portrayal anything more than conventional. The actors around her (Martin Henderson, Queen Latifah, Bruce Altman, Eugenio Derbez) make more of an impression, but maybe that’s because they realize how much screen time they have to work with.
While occasionally preachy (courtesy of a thankless role from John Carroll Lynch, playing the community’s pastor), Miracles from Heaven delivers in emotion.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie
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