Higher Ground

First Hit: An uneven film but it does open dialogue around people’s belief in God.

This is Vera Farmiga’s directorial film debut and she selected to do a film about religion and one’s belief in God.

It begins with Corinne (played by Taissa Farmiga as young Corinne and Vera Farmiga as adult Corinne) watching her parents struggle, especially when her younger brother dies. Her father begins to drink and the family splits up. Corinne is a quite introverted girl and meets Ethan (played by Joshua Leonard), the lead singer of a rock and roll band. The become very close, she gets pregnant, and they get married.

While traveling to a gig in the van with other band members they crash off the road and end up in a river. Ethan makes sure Corinne gets to the shore but she is hysterical because the baby is still in the van. Ethan goes back finds the baby alive and OK and from then on he believes that God saved him and the baby. Corinne is less convinced but tries to become more religious and to become a full believer.

The film sets this up so that we can watch the main characters and others in the film deal with their belief in God. However, here is where the film meanders and loses focus from time to time. I never did fully believe that Corinne believed in God and I’m not sure that this was on purpose or not.

The other thing I didn’t believe is that Pastor Bud (played by Bill Irwin) was a believer himself. It was almost that he preached so that he could believe which could have been the point as well. If this was the case, the film really fails to setup these questions.

Taissa Farmiga was really good as a young thoughtful girl attempting understand life and religion. Vera Farmiga was good at times and appeared lost at times which meant it was an uneven performance. Leonard was OK but like Farmiga it felt uneven. Irwin was stronger than other actors as a pastor who likes to control his flock through platitudes. Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe wrote this script which seemed unclear at times and pointed at others. Vera Farmiga did a good job of directing others, not so good with herself and the overall story needed tightening up and the film made more crisp.

Overall: The subject was interesting but leaving the theater I didn’t think the film gave me enough to think about or consider the next day.