- Genre: Drama
- Director: Vera Farmiga
- Stars: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, Dagmara Dominczyk
- Rate: ** 1/2
Higher Ground sees acclaimed actress Vera Farmiga (The Departed) directing for the first time in a film that explores organized religion. The title of the source book gives a clue to where things are going: This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, by Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe, who also wrote the screenplay.
Farmiga’s protagonist, Corinne (played at various life stages by herself or her look-alike sister, Taissa Farmiga, and by young McKenzie Turner), comes to Christianity almost by accident, when she raises her hand in affirmation at a 1960s church service.
It’s not until a near-death experience years later, when Corinne is married to her high-school flame, Ethan (first Boyd Holbrook, later Joshua Leonard), and caring for a baby daughter, that she truly feels God’s presence. It’s not exactly a thunderbolt, but it’s enough to get the shy and bookish girl to join a local evangelical church, along with her husband.
Corinne is happy, her family grows and she feels part of a community, but doubt begins to seep in when she befriends Annika (Dagmara Dominczyk). Tragedy delivers another blow to her faith, and Corinne’s long-simmering doubts about God begin to boil.
Higher Ground takes its time in following Corinne’s journey, following her for two hours that span 20 years. The story is sometimes short on drama, and characters are sometimes sketched too broadly, but Farmiga’s first film is good enough to make us look forward to her next one.