Movie review – Higher Ground
– by Julia Brown
Nowadays, creating a film that gives its audience a balanced, honest and human perspective on faith and religion is a tricky thing. But somehow, Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground manages to do just that.
Higher Ground is the sort of film that critics salivate over, and indeed it has received a lot of accolades since its Sundance premiere earlier this year. Most of the praise is well-earned, especially regarding the nuanced performance by Farmiga, who plays a woman struggling to come to terms with her feelings about God and the teachings of her evangelical Christian church in the face of the complexities and tragedies of real life.
The goal is to start a dialogue between Christians and non-Christians – to create a kind of “higher ground” everyone can retreat to. Farmiga and her writers manage to achieve this by making each character as three-dimensional as possible, with feelings and thoughts that are easy for the audience, religious or non-religious alike, to warm to.
For example, the friendship that Farmiga’s character Corinne and Annika (played by the beautiful Dagmara Dominczyk) develop is very realistic – they behave the way girlfriends generally behave together, regardless of religious affiliation. The scene where Annika gives Corinne advice on how to improve her sexual relationship with her husband by drawing artful picture of her husband’s penis (the way Annika does with her hubby) is priceless, funny, and also designed to show that these ladies of faith are just normal, flesh-and-blood women.
Corinne is not a paragon of virtue, any more than anyone else can or should be. Her faith-based struggles, as well as her more mundane issues, are all-too-human. God may be more front-and-centre for Corinne than for non-religious people, but ultimately she is just one woman, trying to make the best decisions she can for herself, her marriage and her children. In that way, Corinne as a character is Everywoman, and her story is something that almost every female audience member (and likely most of the male audience members as well) can relate to.
Higher Ground has its funny and entertaining moments, but it is ultimately a serious film, with serious intentions and aims. This is not a popcorn movie, to be sure. But if you have been looking for a film that explores the topic of faith and religion from a fair, human point of view, this film is definitely worth a viewing.
Watch – Higher Ground (movie trailer):