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Higher Ground

Submitted by MBergeron on September 22, 2011 – 3:36 pm2 Comments
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Higher Ground tells the story of a woman who lives a devout life under the spell of a non-denominational church. The film’s based on the memoir titled This Dark World (by Carolyn Briggs) although the film’s title reminds of a Stevie Wonder hit from the 70s in addition to its literal meaning. I keep wanting to say On Dangerous Ground but that’s a 1952 Nicholas Ray film.

As directed by Vera Farmiga, who also stars, Higher Ground takes its subject seriously enough to be a moving meditation on religion, perhaps not as profound as say Ingmar Bergman films like Through A Glass Darkly or Winter Light, but certainly in the same ballpark. Another film that Higher Ground reminds me of is the Robert Duvall directed The Apostle. (Like Farmiga, Duvall also starred and wrote that film.)

Farmiga casts her younger sister (Taissa Farmiga) quite effectively as the younger version of her character, seen marrying her high school sweetheart. At first I was admiring how much the “young” versions of the lead players actually looked like their older counterparts. A near fatal bus accident causes the newlyweds to reconsider their faith leading to involvement with the non-denominational church central to the story. Conflict range from church elders regulating women to the “speak when spoken to” camp to the everyday kinds of arguments that married couples experience.

Higher Ground has a warm look and never preaches when it can illustrate through well thought out dialogue its thoughts. The characters on display are not fanatical, and that goes a long way in making Higher Ground palatable.

- Michael Bergeron

2 Comments »

  • V says:

    Higher Ground was first supposed to be shown at the River Oaks, then at the Greenway starting Sept. 23, but that’s not so…. Does anyone know if the film will be shown anywhere in Houston?

  • MBergeron says:

    V …. Higher Ground played for a week at the Edwards Grand Palace also called the Greenway Theater, it is a busy season and a movie by the same distributor (Sony Pictures Classics) Restless is now playing there

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