Does God Love Sundance?

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 24 2011 9:58 AM

Does God Love Sundance?

Thoughtful American filmsabout Christianity or spirituality are pretty rare, probably given the risk ofoffense. Instead what you get are films meant either to pander to truebelievers (say, Evan Almighty ), or expose the dangers of cults ( Children of theCor n ) but not so much between.

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Higher Ground , which hadits world premiere at Sundance Sunday, is one of those very rare creatures. It takes bravery to earnestly and honestly understand the appeal of beingborn again and praying to Jesus without mockery or the need to have Godsuddenly demonstrate his powers with special effects.

As described earlier , Higher Ground is the directorial deut of Vera Farmiga ( Upin the Air ), who also stars. The story follows the spiritual life of awoman who, with her husband, joins a small, born-again congregation after theirchild is saved in an apparent miracle. The real miracle is that, in lessthan two hours, the film asks most of the hardest questions in the history ofreligion. Just how can God be both good and all-powerful if he allowsEvil to happen? Is sexual desire the work of God or mere sin? Is faith reallyfaith, if you waver now and then?

Okay, so not everyonewill dig a film that asks these kinds of questions. A lot of people willhate this film, and let's be clear that a satisfying resolution of the Paradoxof Evil is pretty much out of the question. But to dare to get at thisstuff makes  Higher Ground a triumph, and the best film I've seenhere so far.

Still from Higher Ground © Sundance Film Festival. All rights reserved.

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