New movie: Higher Ground

by betterdaze 4 Replies latest social entertainment

  • betterdaze

    Pregnant, married, and awkward at eighteen years old, Carolyn Briggs grows more and more interested in Jesus, eventually giving herself over to a radical New Testament church. Amidst her community of self-described "Jesus Freaks," Carolyn's daily life consists of hours of Bible study, alternative family practices and bracing for the oncoming Rapture. It's only when her marriage begins to unravel that Carolyn dares to question the religious dogma she has embraced for her entire adult life.

    Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, HIGHER GROUND, depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community thrown off-kilter when one of their own begins to question her faith.

    Inspired by Carolyn S. Briggs' memoir, This Dark World (screenplay by Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe & Carolyn S. Briggs), the film tells the story of a thoughtful woman's struggles with belief, love, and trust.

    Faith, love and honesty are the cornerstones of this story of a woman who learns that no matter how many times she loses her footing, she has within herself all that's necessary to get to a higher place.

  • DaCheech

    always interesting to see people in similiar religions.

    Jesus is supposed to bind people together, until?

  • DaCheech


    BTW, Obama went to paterson sunday, but did he see the other towns?

  • glenster

    Vera Farmiga's "Higher Ground" is the life story of a woman who grows into, and
    out of, Christianity. It values her at every stage of that process. It never
    says she is making the right or wrong decision, only that what she does seems
    necessary at the time she does it. In a world where believers and agnostics
    are polarized and hold simplified ideas about each other, it takes a step back
    and sees faith as a series of choices that should be freely made.

    The woman's name is Corinne. We see her as a child, a teenager around 20 and an
    adult around 40. As a child, she invites Jesus into her life in a conventional
    mainstream Protestant sort of way. Later, she is born again, with full
    immersion and all the rest of it, after she and her husband credit God for
    saving them and their child from tragedy. Later still, she finds her
    evangelical congregation enforcing uncomfortable conformity upon her.

    I would like to say "Higher Ground," which marks Farmiga's directorial debut,
    never steps wrong in following this process, but it does. Sometimes it slips
    too easily into satire, but at least it's nuanced satire based on true believer
    s who are basically nice and good people. There are no heavy-handed portraits of
    holy rollers here, just people whose view of the world is narrow. There are
    also no outsize sinners, just some gentle singer-songwriters who are too fond
    of pot and whose lyrics are parades of cliches.

    Corinne is played as a girl by McKenzie Turner, as an adult by Vera Farmiga and
    as a teenager by Farmiga's sister, Taissa. At all of these stages in life, the
    character's face reflects awareness and intelligence, along with an inbred
    independence that makes her a little reluctant to go along with the crowd. At
    the discussions held by her prayer group, we can see her drawing a line between
    those who are thoughtful and those who are passive conformists. Corinne reads
    widely. She thinks about the Scriptures. She has opinions. She doesn't respond
    well when an older woman advises her that when she speaks out, it sounds too
    much like preaching. God forbid a woman should have an opinion.

    Yet the preachers she comes into contact with are not bad men. The film
    carefully avoids stereotyping them. It's just that as she grows older, her
    congregation becomes a group where the others feel more included than she can.
    They accept. Even the men consider male dominance a duty, not a pleasure.

    Corinne has a best friend, Annika (Dagmara Dominczyk), she confides in. They
    share thoughts about sex and other things. (Farmiga might have been wise,
    however, to avoid the easy laugh when each woman draws her husband's penis.
    There is a statement to be made, but there must be a more subtle way to make

    Unhappiness strikes the group. I will not supply details. I observe, however,
    that a person who suffers great misfortune is unlikely to be comforted by the
    assurance that God's will has been done. (In the case of my own misfortune, I
    prefer to think that God's will had nothing to do with it. People who tell me
    it did are singularly tactless.)

    Ask yourself during the film where you think it takes place — which American
    state? I looked up the locations on IMDb and was surprised. Its location doesn't
    fit regional stereotypes. Nor do its characters. These are decent people,
    trying to do the right thing, and Corinne is a decent person who believes she
    must decide on the right thing for herself. When others inform her what that is
    , why are they rarely eager to have her input?

    Vera Farmiga is such a warm actress. I don't know if she could play cruel. John
    Hawkes, who plays her alcoholic father, can play cruel — but not in a physically
    violent way. His is the kind of cruelty that shows a child her father is weak
    and pitiful, and doesn't deserve her respect. Perhaps that's how she began to
    doubt at an early age the paternalism of her social group.

    We see the seeds of imagination growing through her reading. People in books
    sometimes do things we can understand because we have come to know those people.
    Non-readers are likely to think they know what people should do because — well,
    they just should, that's all. You can read this in a book: "The unexamined
    life is not worth living."

  • leavingwt

    I heard about this one the other day. It sounds like a story that might resonate with some ex-JWs.

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