Review: By Ben Boquist
It’s no secret that conservative Christians and Hollywood have a tense relationship. Christian made films are usually syrupy and badly executed. Christian characters in Hollywood films are usually comic hypocrites, or worse villains.
And that is why Vera Farmiga’s film Higher Ground is such a breath of Fresh Air.
Farmiga directs and stars as Corrine, a middle aged Christian mom whom we see over three decades as she struggles with her faith, her marriage and her role as a woman in Christian Community.
Given the premise this could easily have painted the devout as sexist, intellectually feeble and naive. While it does show the negative aspects (Corrine is frequently told to submit to spiritually authority of men) it succeeds in making it’s characters vibrant, smart, human and likable.
In particular, Corrine’s best friend, the pentecostal and sexually liberated Annika, played with color and nuance by the talented Dagmara Dominczyk, is anything but stereotypical. (She tells Corrine in the film’s comic high point how she and her husband keep their passion alive through erotic art.)
When tragedy strikes, Corrine wrestles with what she perceives as God’s absence. But even then, the film refuses to take a position.
Finally, Higher Ground triumphs by paying homage to Christianity’s rich musical tradition. The soundtrack uses hymns, gospel standards, and Appalachian roots music to dramatic effect to tell Corrine’s story.
Religious or secular, there’s much to praise in Higher Ground.