- Director:Vera Farmiga
- Cast:Vera Farmiga, John Hawkes, Joshua Leonard
- Release Date:October 06, 2011
- Running time:111 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Slow and meandering at times, this remains a thought-provoking and moving exploration of faith, which doesn’t opt for easy resolutions.
A gutsy opening sets the tone for this immersive study of extreme Christianity, with scenes of religious fervour by a river as blissed-out devotees go through the ritual of being "born again" while the throng ecstatically praise Jesus. If spending two slow hours with a bunch of Fundamentalist Christians makes you want to run for the hills, then actress Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, Higher Ground, is not for you. Within this cloistered and often bizarre world, Farmiga sensitively tells the touching tale of Corinne, a devout woman who struggles with her religious beliefs over three decades, from the turbulent sixties through to the eighties.
We see early indoctrination of this religious community's impressionable little kiddies, as a pastor exhorts, "Jesus is knocking at your heart - you have to let him in!" Thereafter he makes suggestive conversation with little Corinne's sexy mother, prompting the first of a handful of Farmiga's playful and delightful moments of surrealism. Vera's real life younger sister, Taissa Farmiga, plays Corrine as a teen. Sweet scenes of adolescent romance and sexual discovery in an idyllic field suggest a predictable trajectory; the very next scene shows Corinne pregnant at her wedding. There is a pleasing if calculating symmetry to the narrative, as first Corinne's mother loses, and then Corinne's young husband gains faith, both because of tragic episodes. Corinne's sister Wendy (Nina Arianda), meanwhile, is briefly included in the storyline as a non-believer outsider until she is demonised as an evil druggie.
Higher Ground is well acted and directed, and features fantastic art direction. But because it meanders and loses sight of some narrative threads, you feel every minute tick by. By its eventual conclusion, this insightful, devoted and essentially beautiful tale of a woman's struggle with her faith offers no easy answers.