Friday, March 18, 2016
Miracles from Heaven is based on the 2015 memoir of Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner), whose daughter suffers from a rare fatal intestinal disease and is miraculously healed by a freak accident. It is the story of this mother’s struggle to initially get her daughter diagnosed after doctors tell her there is nothing seriously wrong with ten-year-old Annabelle (Kylie Rogers), who suffers from constant, severe pain, and abdominal bloating despite diet changes and prescribed medication.
Faith is the theme which runs through the film. The family, which consists of Kevin Beam (Martin Henderson), a large animal veterinarian, Christy, wife and mother, and three daughters, Abbie, 13, Annabelle (nicknamed Anna), 10, and Adelyn, 6, are a loving, happy Christian family from Burleson, Texas (near Fort Worth), who appear to be tuned into their faith. As Christians, they faithfully attend worship services as a family and hear their pastor give a homily on the importance of faith, telling them that it is the one thing in this life that “can’t be bought” and that it is “the only true shelter.”
Shortly afterward, their faith becomes challenged when Anna suddenly becomes violently ill, vomiting. Initially, her parents take her to a local doctor who diagnoses her as being “lactose intolerant” and her diet is adjusted. When severe pain continues and occurs in the middle of the night, they take Anna to the Emergency Room, where she is diagnosed with “acid reflux”. Finally, after Christy insists that another physician see Anna as she suspects there is something seriously wrong, Anna is diagnosed with a rare intestinal disorder, which does not permit her to digest food. Following Anna’s surgery, the parents learn that there is no cure for her condition.
Anna is referred to a specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital and is put on a long waiting list. After calling the hospital for months to set up an appointment with pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Samuel Nurko (Eugenio Derbez) with no success, Christy decides to fly to Boston and show up at his office with Anna in the hopes of getting in to see him. She pleads with the receptionist and appeals to her maternal instincts with no success.
The highlight of her trip is meeting Angela (Queen Latifah), an empathetic and friendly waitress, who who offers to give them a tour of Boston the following day. They are having a great time enjoying all the activities that Anna loves – visiting the aquarium, art museums, and seeing all the tourist attractions, when out of the blue Christy gets a phone call from the receptionist, informing her that Dr. Nurko has an opening for Anna the following day.
Dr. Nurko is a wonderful pediatric physician who does a through diagnosis, jokes with Anna and is very personable, but he tells Christy that there is no cure, that all he can do is try to control the pain and that he needs to see Anna every eight weeks. The pain medication that he prescribes has many serious side effects, but he emphasizes that it will improve her quality of life. And, so the travels back and forth to Boston begin. There are many tests that are done and Anna is even hospitalized.
Financial pressures, the stress of this illness, the fear of losing Anna, the careless and cruel words of fellow parishioners, all take their toll on Christy, who admittedly loses her faith. Her husband, Kevin Beam is a strong steady, dependable support for her, who works extra hours at the job (to pay for the enormous medical bills), caring for the children while Christy travels back and forth from Texas to Boston. He also arranges from Christy to meet with their pastor, who is empathetic with her plight.
There is a lot to love about this movie. The acting is superb. The characters seem very real and relatable. The plot is engaging. It is humorous and fun at times. The Christian message of faith is one we can all relate to, especially in the midst of tough times. You may think you know the ending to this one, but you really don’t. There is a wonderful surprise ending. This is a must-see movie and one of my favorites so far this year. It is an uplifting and inspiring story of family, friends, faith, forgiveness, healing, and miracles. I give Miracles from Heaven my highest rating – five stars.
~ copyright Jean M. Heimann March 2016