Until it delivers an eye-rolling scene near the end, “Miracles From Heaven” is an unexpectedly effective tear-jerker. More surprising still, that late diversion doesn’t negate much of the movie’s early sincerity.
“Miracles From Heaven” is based on “the incredible true story” of the Beam family. Anna (Kylie Rogers), the middle child of three daughters of Christy (Jennifer Garner) and Kevin (Martin Henderson), begins experiencing pain that worsens until the cause – a rare and potentially fatal intestinal disorder – is diagnosed.
Christy proves to be a determined mother, flying with Anna from their Texas home to implore a specialist in Boston to treat the girl. Yet despite Christy’s Christian faith – the opening of the movie shows the Beams preparing for church – she begins to doubt God as Anna’s condition worsens.
Adapted by Randy Brown from Christy Beam’s memoir, the film, directed by Patricia Riggen, focuses much more on the family’s love and sacrifices than on its specific creed. Even scenes set in a church look to uplift viewers rather than convert them. The stresses of parenthood and illness are the main emphasis here, and if the film follows the formula of an inoffensive Lifetime movie, that works well enough to keep the tale perfectly watchable.
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Only near the end, when Anna is found to be mysteriously cured after falling unconscious, does the story veer toward the mawkish. Anna relates leaving her body and visiting a vague heaven (a scene that’s sped through, as if even the filmmakers had their doubts), leading Christy to deliver a final sermon on rediscovering faith.
Garner remains dedicated throughout, and a scene in which she begs a receptionist for help is especially heartfelt. Queen Latifah, in a minor role as an implausibly friendly waitress, offers the required comic relief. Whether the actresses believe the girl’s story, I can’t say. But they know how to act as though they do.
‘Miracles From Heaven’
☆ ☆ 1/2
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Kyle Rogers, Martin Henderson, Queen Latifah.
Director: Patricia Riggen.
Running time: 109 minutes.
Rating: PG (a few tough scenes of childhood illness and pain).