Hot Take: The story of Anna Beam is a miraculous one. Walking in, though, you probably know most of the movie (especially if you’ve seen the trailer) and it doesn’t add much more.
Director Patricia Riggen was the person behind last year’s The 33. At the time, MHT reviewed The 33 and pointed out that the film had a problem with pacing. Riggen’s latest — Miracles from Heaven — suffers from the same pacing issues seen in The 33.
Like The 33, Miracles from Heaven is in possession of a story worth telling on the big screen. A young girl gets a rare digestive disorder, can’t find a cure, suffers a terrible accident and is cured miraculously by, well, that ones a discussion for a different day. However, don’t expect the big screen version of the best-selling novel by Anna Beam’s mother, Christy Beam (played in the film by Jennifer Garner) to be as concise as the preceding sentence. Instead, Miracles from Heaven takes it’s time to get where it wants to go… even the montage scenes are drawn out. Even more unfortunate, if you’ve seen the trailer, is that every build up is to a scene that was covered in the preview (sans Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”) and even though it should feel fresh, watching Miracles from Heaven for the first time actually felt like the second viewing.
As for the message of the film, there is already criticism of the film’s preachiness. However, this criticism is somewhat unfounded. While the film is written and directed toward the choir, it does it’s best to include those who don’t believe unlike some previous faith-based films which are a little pushier than Miracles from Heaven. Instead, this film chooses to reiterate the message that when faced with the choice of having faith or not having faith, you’d be better off having faith because it just feels better. The Beam’s pastor (John Carroll Lynch) condemns those who blame the family’s unknown sins for what happened to their daughter. There’s quotes from Albert Einstein about miracles. In general, the film is nowhere near as heavy on the faith as previous faith-based offerings. If anything, Miracles from Heaven is pretty even handed on how miracles happen and never once credits faith in a higher power for what cures Anna Beam but instead credits the higher power at work. That’ll be troubling enough for ye who have little or no faith.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Kylie Rogers
Rogers plays Beam and does an excellent job as the girl who never loses her faith despite an illness that has her in pain basically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- The Portrayal of the Stress of Dealing With a Family Illness
While it may overstay it’s welcome, Miracles from Heaven does take the audience through the trials and tribulations of dealing with a difficult illness and the strain it puts on the family it affects. The portrayal feels accurate and would be more difficult if you weren’t clearly aware of the outcome ahead.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Too Long
At an hour and 49 minutes, Miracles from Heaven is way too bloated. The film could have used a little more time in the editing room to shave off a few minutes of run time.
- Knowing the End Hurts the Rest of the Film
Sometimes a film can survive being a well known story or having a trailer that reveals too much. That’s not the case with Miracles from Heaven which is actually more effective in it’s trailer form than in this drawn out depiction from an emotional perspective.