Miracles from Heaven stars Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam, mother of three daughters and married to veterinarian husband Kevin (Martin Henderson) in rural Texas. One night, the couple’s daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) begins vomiting and complaining of abdominal pain, to which doctors can initially find no explanation for. However, after numerous visits to the hospital, they finally discover the condition to be pseudo-obstruction motility disorder, which prevents the ailing child from eating properly. Having to deal with her daughter essentially slowly dying, Christy and her family do everything in their power to find some way of curing Anna’s digestive problems, but it might just take a miracle for that to happen.
If you’ve seen the trailer for Miracles from Heaven in theaters, you know the basic story line for where this movie is going to go. Little Anna is suffering from an illness, her family doesn’t know what to do to help her, but she one day falls down from a tree, and the condition disappears. The fact that the trailer spoils so much on how the film ends can be a fairly big detriment to the viewer, and it’s not like Miracles from Heaven throws any significant twists to offset how much has already been revealed. However, what makes this film a surprisingly decent faith-based feature is how much it embraces the grittiness and the anguish that comes with dealing with a dying daughter. So much so that the family’s faith is actually more of an aspect of their lives, as opposed to what drives this movie forward, instead focusing on Christy Beam doing everything she can to save Anna’s life.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Miracles from Heaven doesn’t try to hammer in the faith from time to time, but it’s the mother-daughter relationship that truly defines this movie as a whole. If anyone has had to bear watching someone you love lie sick in a hospital bed, Miracles from Heaven will send a few chills down your spine with grave reminders of what that’s like. From those times seeing Anna cry from unbearable pain, or whispering to her mother “I want to die,” there are plenty of outright heart-wrenching moments that may bring tears to your eyes. Director Patricia Riggen, along with actresses Jennifer Garner and Kiley Rogers, definitely deserve credit in the handling of these tragic scenes, as they’re without a doubt what separates this movie from the overabundance of mediocre faith films releasing around Easter each year. Even if the trailer spoils how it all ends up, these painfully real world moments make Miracles from Heaven a possibly good choice of feature for Christians and Non-Christians alike, because even if we disagree on how the world works, we all understand the importance of fighting for the survival of the ones you love. We also get some surprisingly enjoyable moments from Queen Latifah and Eugenio Derbez, who provide some light comedy to help balance out the grim moments.
This doesn’t equate Miracles from Heaven as a breathtaking feature overall, however. In actuality, the film is relatively overstuffed with unnecessary moments and storylines that drag things out longer than it should have been. Two hours may not seem like a lot, but a tale such as this needs to be short and concise if it wishes to get its “never stop fighting” message across as clearly as possible. Even if Christy and Anna’s story was one worth telling, that doesn’t mean putting more into said story would be an improvement. For example, there are instances where you feel like the movie is about to end and wrap itself up, but you’ll be met with even more scenes that do little to add to their tale. On a side note, the dialogue can sometimes be a little unnatural as well, especially between the young daughters. I don’t think I have ever heard a young girl say “You’re too young to roll round in the tire, your brain is still developing.”
In the end, that shouldn’t be enough to offset religious film die-hards from enjoying this one. Even if you’re non religious yourself, I believe you’ll find enough emotional heft in Miracles from Heaven to see why it was a tale worth telling to the world. Despite being occasionally messy in narrative choices and lasting quite longer than it needed to, its message and those hard-to-watch barefaced moments are what gives Miracles from Heaven its shine. Leaving itself off on a message that we all are capable of making miracles happen, just by lending some sort of hand to the ones we care about and strangers alike, this movie-going experience is without a doubt a positive one for many to find something within.