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Higher Ground
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Reviewed on 2011-10-14
Received[3]  out of 4 stars
Vera Farmiga makes her directorial debut in this drama charting one woman’s lifelong struggle with her faith. Inspired by Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir, “This Dark World,” this film follows Corinne Walker (Farmiga as an adult and her younger sister, Taissa, as a teenager) in her quest for spiritual identity. This thought-provoking character study brings to mind a religious Don Quixote. The movie is divided into six chapters denoted by separate headings.

Corinne’s journey spanning three decades begins as a child growing up in the 1960s. She raises her hand in church to open her heart to Jesus at the pastor’s request in an attempt to overcome a sense of inadequacy.

As a teenager, Corinne is drawn into the arms of Ethan Miller (Joshua Leonard), the guitar-playing lead singer in a local band. He provides a safety net from an unraveling home life in which her parents are constantly arguing.

Corinne marries Ethan and has a tough pregnancy. A life-saving event propels them to join a small, tightly-knit fundamentalist community where they find meaning and

stability. Some of its more conservative tenets leave Corinne, now a middle-aged mother of two, unsettled. A profound crisis of faith takes place that turns her world upside down.

Farmiga makes an astounding directorial debut in this emotionally-charged film in which doubt brings challenging questions and faith proves to not be the magic elixir in dealing with life’s misfortunes. The movie tackles tough issues that sometimes become roadblocks to finding complete solace in a religious belief system.

The movie’s strengths include the screenplay written by Tim Metcalfe and the soundtrack of religious hymns composed and arranged by Alec Puro.

The movie premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. The movie was shot in Kingston located in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Besides exploring issues of faith in a truthful way, love, trust and honesty in human relationships also play a part in the story. The movie should serve as inspiration for personal reflection and communal dialogue.

Opening exclusively for a limited engagement at AMC Town Center 20, Glenwood at Red Bridge and the Tivoli in Westport.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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