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Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.S

Miracles from Heaven premieres in theaters today (3/16).

Synopsis (from the film’s press release): Miracles from Heaven is based on the incredible true story of the Beam Family. When Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. As Christy searches, she befriends Angela (Queen Latifah), who helps bring everyday joy and hope back to the Beam family. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family’s faith restored and their community inspired. Cast:  Jennifer Garner (Alias), Kylie Rogers (Fathers and Daughters(, Martin Henderson (Everest), Eugenio Derbez (The Book of Life), Queen Latifah (The Wiz!)/Director: Patricia Riggen (The 33)/Screenplay: Randy Brown (Trouble with the Curve)/Based on the book by: Christy Beam/Released by: Columbia Pictures, in association with AFFIRM Films, Roth Films, TDJ Enterprises and Franklin Entertainment

Review:  Producer DeVon Franklin (an interview with whom I post tomorrow) notes that the box office success of Heaven is for Real (which he also worked on along with fellow producers T.D. Jakes and Joe Roth) led Sony to push for a sequel. While, Miracles from Heaven isn’t a sequel it does convey the same faith in  divine intervention and the afterlife. And, while I liked Heaven is for Real, this new film is even better at telling a story with potential to reach well beyond the choir.

Jennifer Garner (who in 2009 co-starred with Ricky Gervais in the atheistic-themed comedy The Invention of Lying) gives a heartfelt performance as Christy Beam, the distraught mother whose faith is challenged by her daughter Anna’s painful and life-threatening digestive illness. The film is based on Beam’s book and Garner, a mother herself, powerfully captures her devotion and anguish as the selflessly fight’s for her child’s life. In my opinion, it’s the meatiest role of her career and her performance is Oscar worthy. In any event, Garner says the film — and meeting Beam — has led to her own return to church as an important part of her family’s life.  (Note: I’ll post an interview with Christy Beam on Friday).

Equally remarkable in her performance is young Kylie Rogers as 10-year-old Anna. In a script that calls for emotions ranging from terrified to joyful, she proves herself a masterful actress who, I believe, has a great future ahead of her, this generation’s Jodie Foster.  The entire cast gets it done — including Martin Henderson as devoted husband and father Kevin, Queen Latifah as the appropriately-named good Samaritan Angela and Eugenio Derbez as the brilliant and compassionate Dr. Nurko.

The film should appeal to audiences that can be counted on to enjoy faith-themed films, as well the general population just looking for a quality feel-good film about the decency of ordinary people trying to do the right thing. Miracles from Heaven is Highly Recommended.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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