"Miracles From Heaven" Packs An Emotional Wallop

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"Miracles From Heaven" (TriStar Pictures)

The last few weeks have brought us an increase of faith-based films. Audiences have gotten a chance to view strongly religious movies such as "Risen" and "The Young Messiah." Now we get a modern story that is equally as faith based as those movies are. "Miracles From Heaven" is based on a true story and tells of a family whose lives are turned upside down when their youngest daughter develops a life threatening illness.

Kevin and Christy Beam (Martin Henderson and Jennifer Garner) are living the good life in Texas. Kevin has a large veterinary practice and Christy is a stay at home mom. They have three daughters who are the joy of their lives. The family belongs to a local church and are faithful in their attendance.

Over a period of time the parents come to realize their ten year old daughter is sick. She cannot tolerate food very easily and her stomach aches constantly and is distended. The local doctors say she has acid reflux and later that she is lactose intolerant, but Christy knows there is something more to her daughter's health issues. Finally she finds a doctor who says she has a condition in which the intestines shut down. They do not digest the intake of food and cause severe pain. She is advised to take her daughter to see a Boston specialist, Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez) but even he is limited in what kind of treatment he can provide.

The rest of the movie deals with the roller coaster ride the Beams endured with their child's illness. It is also a film about faith lost and faith found; of miracles both major and minor; and the eternal struggle to find hope. Faith is at the center of the story but the movie manages to make its points without being overly preachy. Still its lessons of faith and hope are emotionally challenging and stunningly impressive.

Garner's performance as Christy is the central force of the film. She makes Christy touchingly sincere while also being ferociously protective. The main emotion this woman has to project is her love for her family and she does this in spades. It is not a complex performance but rather one that goes to the heart of the matter and touches the audience with its honesty.

Matching her step by step is Kylie Rogers in the role of role Anna, the ill daughter of the Beams. Every scene regarding Anna's illness is full of pathos but it never flows over into the maudlin or becomes treacly. She is a child in pain and her strongest asset is her faith.

Queen Latifah is quirky and loving as a family friend while Derbez makes Dr. Nurko the kind of doctor we all want to have in a medical crisis. Henderson has some strong moments as Kevin, and Brighton Sharbino and Courtney Fansler are distinctive as the Beam's other two daughters.

The film is rated PG for tense medical scenes.

"Miracles From Heaven" is a film that incorporates popular actors to broaden its appeal. It has beautiful cinematography and a wonderful musical score that features performances by Third Day. All of this, plus the heart touching story, combine to give the film an emotional wallop that will find few dry eyes in the audience. Most of us can use a little more hope, love and faith in our lives and that is what this movie delivers.

I scored "Miracles From Heaven" a divine 8 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper