Higher Ground (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Vera Farmiga|
|Produced by||Claude Dal Farra
|Screenplay by||Carolyn S. Briggs
|Based on||This Dark World
by Carolyn S. Briggs
Norbert Leo Butz
|Music by||Alec Puro|
|Editing by||Colleen Sharp|
The Group Entertainment
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Running time||114 minutes|
Corinne Walker (Vera Farmiga) is a young girl who is skeptical about God. After the stillbirth of her brother, her parent's marriage disintegrates over the course of several years. As a teenager (Taissa Farmiga), she meets Ethan (Boyd Holbrook), a budding musician in local rock band The Renegades. They get married after Corinne becomes pregnant, and have their daughter Abigail. While touring with Ethan's band, their bus crashes into a river. Ethan rushes to save Abby, and Corinne pleads with god to save her. Abby is pulled out of the bus before it sinks into the water, and Ethan believes that God wanted them to live. Ethan and Corinne grow more and more interested in Jesus, eventually giving themselves over to a radical New Testament church.
As adults, Corinne and Ethan are living with their children Abigail and Lilly amidst a community of self-described "Jesus Freaks,". Corinne's daily life consists of hours of Bible study, alternative family practices, and bracing for the oncoming Rapture. The husbands are told by Pastor Bill (Norbert Leo Butz) that they should pay more attention to their wive's sexual needs after a fellow husband's indiscretions caused his wife to leave with their children. Corinne's closest friend Annika (Dagmara Dominczyk) also warns her about keeping the marriage alive by trying new things, such as drawing their husbands penises. One day, Corine's younger sister Wendy (Nina Arianda) shows up on her doorstep after ending yet another bad relationship. Abby and Lilly say they pray for Wendy every day since she hasn't given herself over to Jesus, and therefore, will go to hell. Their father comes over for dinner, and says that children are the most important things in life. He also takes responsibility over how losing their baby brother caused him to wreck his marriage.
When Annika attempts to teach Corine how to drive, they get pulled over by a policeman who Annika is able to charm by pretending to a heavy accent. She explains that knowing how to flirt is key when dealing with men. As time passes, Corinne gets pregnant again. During a group meeting, Corinne tries to express her thoughts on what they can and cannot see. She gets shut down by Pastor Bill and his wife, but they say that they know about how badly she wants to submit to God. Ethan then finds Lilly playing with cocaine that she found in Wendy's suitcase. He and Corinne flush the drugs down the toilet, and Wendy storms off. The pastor's wife tells Corinne one night that she should not wear a particular dress again since a male member of the church complimented her on it. While looking in the mirror, she then sees herself wearing sexy lingerie. Corine soon has a baby boy named Gabe. She gets a call one day, and finds out that Annika has an inoperable brain tumor. The community prays for her, and she survives risky surgery. However, she is also mute and confined to a wheelchair. This leads Corinne to question her faith, and her overall belief in God.
- Vera Farmiga as Corinne Walker
- Donna Murphy as Kathleen Walker
- John Hawkes as CW Walker
- Nina Arianda as Wendy Walker
- Dagmara Dominczyk as Annika
- Norbert Leo Butz as Pastor Bill
- Bill Irwin as Pastor Bud
- Joshua Leonard as Ethan Miller
- Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Luke
- Taissa Farmiga as Young Corinne
- Boyd Holbrook as Young Ethan
Higher Ground is loosely based on the memoir This Dark World by author Carolyn S. Briggs, who co-wrote the screenplay. Filming took place in June 2010 in Kingston, New York.
The film premiered in January 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival and received a limited release in the US by Sony Pictures Classics on August 26, 2011. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 10, 2012.
Higher Ground received positive reviews from critics. The film received a "Certified Fresh" 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic indicating "generally favorable reviews".