The true story of a girl’s remarkable recovery from a grave illness is the stuff that makes Kleenex stocks rise or fall.
Those tears wouldn’t be so insistent without the film’s gentle craftsmanship or a ferociously maternal turn from Jennifer Garner.
This is still a faith-based film, but we’re seeing an evolution within the genre at breakneck speeds. Better actors, Bigger budgets. And, at times, their hearts align squarely with the talent on board.
All of the above are working overtime with “Miracles.”
Garner stars as Christy Beam, a married mother of three whose bliss is interrupted by her daughter’s frequent trips to the hospital. The Beams soon learn young Annabel (Kylie Rogers) suffers from a rare condition which prevents her body from processing food.
The search is on, but not for a cure since there isn’t one. What Christy clings to is a Mass. doctor who specializes in this disorder (Eugenio Derbez in a sublime supporting turn). Merely getting an appointment with him will take a miracle, let alone keeping their daughter alive much longer.
There’s one more genuine miracle awaiting Christy and her increasingly desperate family.
“Miracles from Heaven” doesn’t lack an agenda, but it uses dramatic intensity and heartfelt moments to make them go down much easier.
Garner has always excelled at capturing pain, from her “Alias” spy games to the perfectly solid “Elektra.” Here, she channels a different brand of suffering, but behind it lies a dedication to family that won’t be denied.
A subplot involving Queen Latifah, playing a breezy waitress who shows Christy and Annabel just what Boston has to offer, feels like a manufactured aside. But darned if Latifah doesn’t sell the character and the sentiment.
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Other characters deserve far less praise, like the Church busybodies who blame some generic sin on Annabel’s plight. Their appearance suggests a story searching for conflict. It needed bother.
Far better is the father of a similarly sick child adds both texture and understanding to the faith-based template. He gently rejects the notion that faith could help his daughter.
How he and Christy connect reflects a beautiful bond between parents who may not have much in common.
The Beams come across like a genuine family, from the kids’ gentle bickering to the money woes that accompany Annabel’s fight. That makes the young girl’s battle all the more emotional for us, and the stakes even higher for parents in the theater.
What a relief from the snarky teams who mouth off to their parents for our bemusement. The Beams feel like us, which is why the tears fall early and often throughout “Miracles from Heaven.”