After seeing numerous physicians and being told Anna simply has acid reflux or is lactose intolerant, all the while her child lives in constant pain with frequent vomiting episodes and other gastro atrocities, Christy demands further diagnostics at the latest hospital visit and sadly, the truth is revealed, Anna has an incurable motility disorder which means her body is incapable of processing food. Desperate, the Beams turn to Dr. Samuel Nurko (Eugenio Derbez), the foremost authority on this disorder, but he is in Boston and has a 9 month waiting list. As Anna continues to decline, Christy takes a chance and she and Anna head to Boston without an appointment. They are met with more disappointment, but do have the opportunity to meet a wonderful waitress named Angela Bradford (Queen Latifah) who not only embraces the sad mom and child, but takes them under her wing and shows them the city to take their minds off of their situation. Then miraculously, Dr. Nurko has a cancellation and they are able to see him. His news is not much better, although he has a treatment plan to lessen Anna's discomfort, but it includes frequent visits back to his office and countless long hospital stays during flare-ups. Anna is at the end of her rope and Christy has begun to lose faith in God, as fellow church members say thoughtless things blaming the parents for Anna's suffering, although Pastor Scott (John Carroll Lynch, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead) is constantly trying to uplift the family.
During a stint at home, Anna is visibly depressed and Abbie tries to cheer her up by suggesting they climb the enormous cottonwood tree in their yard, like they did in the old days. When the branch begins to crack and Abbie sends Anna back to the truck for safety, she falls through a rotten spot and careens three stories down the inside of the hollow tree trunk. Can this family take any more trauma in their lives? What happens when Anna emerges from the tree truly is one of the many Miracles from Heaven visited upon the Beam family.
While Miracles from Heaven isn't going to appeal to everyone, because it is a faith-based movie, it is still a good drama with excellent acting, for the most part. The pivotal characters, Jennifer Garner and Kylie Rogers, who play mother and daughter, are absolutely spot-on in their roles. Garner perfectly conveys the desperation and fear of a mother with a sick child, but also the ferocity of one who will stop at nothing to help her child. As for Kylie Rogers, I've seen this memorable little girl in an episode of C.S.I. and also in The Whispers and she is a powerhouse, but Sharbino (well known for her riveting role in The Walking Dead) and Fansler also did good jobs. After watching the special features, the casting was pretty much perfect, as Garner and Henderson definitely nail their real-life counterparts, and Derbez does a wonderful job as Dr. Nurko. Queen Latifah is a delight as Angela, bringing humor and light to an otherwise dark time in this family's life, and she is always fun to see, no matter what her role.
Special features include a commentary by director Patricia Riggen and screenwriter Randy Brown, and a slew of featurettes including a making-of; a music montage from the band Third Day, featured as the local church's band; deleted scenes, which are well worth watching and give more insight, but I can see that they were cut for pacing purposes; Accounts from Annabel, where you hear it straight from the horse's mouth; Bearing Witness, which delves into the real Beam family and their faith; and one on the concept art and creation of the scene that takes place in Heaven. They were all interesting to watch and I really enjoyed the exploration into the actual Beam family, as well as the side by side comparisons of the actors versus their real life counterparts.
In short, this film probably won't change your mind, if you have no interest in anything faith-based, but those who are open to it will enjoy this beautiful adaptation. The acting, in general, is very good and so is the production quality, although the Heaven scene was a bit bright and obviously CG. But hey, who am I to say what Heaven looks like? Overall, it's a good movie, but not one to mistakenly be watched while eating dinner. Anna has some serious gastro issues and you just don't want to see what she experiences while eating...