Higher Ground (2011)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: With Higher Ground, star and debuting director Vera Farmiga takes viewers on a challenging spiritual journey whose missteps are easily overcome by its many rich rewards.

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Movie Info

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 screenwriter Carolyn S. Briggs' memoir, This Dark World, the film tells the story of a thoughtful woman's struggles with belief, love, and trust-in human relationships as well as in God. -- (C) Sony Classics
Rating:
R (for some language and sexual content)
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Vera Farmiga
as Corinne Walker
Joshua Leonard
as Ethan Miller
Norbert Leo Butz
as Pastor Bill
McKenzie Turner
as Young Corinne Walker
John Hawkes
as CW Walker
Donna Murphy
as Kathleen Walker
Matthew Dubas
as Salesman
Taylor Schwencke
as Young Wendy Walker
Jillian Lindig
as Mrs. Tuttle
Bill Irwin
as Pastor Bud
Taissa Farmiga
as Teenage Corinne Walker
James Noon
as Kirk
Kaitlyn Rae King
as Teenage Wendy Walker
Boyd Holbrook
as Teenage Ethan Miller
Harrison Basch
as Renegade
Noah Bowman
as Renegade
Booker James Winter
as Biology Teacher
Warren Haynes
as Warren
Luella Roche
as Younger Abigail Miller
Sarah Banks
as Younger Lily Miller
Barbara Tuttle
as Deborah
Frank Goodyear
as Dr. Frank Barnes
Lucy Owen
as Joanna
Nina Arianda
as Wendy Walker
Sarah Little
as Older Abigail Miller
Zoe Pipa
as Older Lily Miller
Mathew Biltonen
as Gabe Miller
Eli Rubinstein
as 7-Year-Old Boy
Amy Helm
as Amy
Machan Taylor
as Machan
Tom Cherwin
as Man in Counseling Office
Laurel S. Andretta
as Woman in Counseling Office
Karen Keefe
as Receptionist
Jack Gilpin
as Dr. Adams
Oliver Wood
as Oliver
Sean Mahon
as Liam
Natalie Thomas
as Liam's Wife
Terry McKenna
as Pawn Shop Worker
Warren Haynes
as Warren
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Higher Ground

All Critics (88) | Top Critics (32)

Vera Farmiga makes a heavenly debut as a director with Higher Ground, a compelling drama about a woman's spiritual journey.

Full Review… | October 6, 2011
TheWrap
Top Critic

The film's quiet realism demands from us our own act of faith: We're asked to watch closely and to listen intently in the promise of a greater reward to come. Well, the promise is partly kept.

Full Review… | September 22, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Farmiga's first film is good enough to make us look forward to her next one.

September 22, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

The film is refreshingly free of proselytizing. In its place, however, is a whiff of condescension.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

This film might easily have settled for mocking religion. Instead, it's a fascinating glimpse into a culture that forces some people to choose between fitting in and opting out.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

At times, these analogies feel forced. But give the rookie filmmaker credit for visual storytelling.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Higher Ground

An intriguing, if ultimately unsuccessful take on religion and how one woman (Vera Farmiga) begins to struggle with her faith while living within a somewhat cultish group of people. Farmiga shows she is a capable director, and her performance is outstanding, but ultimately the movie feels too simple, like she is settling instead of going all-in and taking real risks. In the end, the film benefits from its character development and remains interesting even if it is slowly paced, but ultimately it is just an average offering on the topic of religion that is not too memorable. Far from bad, but skipable.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Faith and Feminism: The Movie. That's a pretty good way to describe this, the directorial debut of its star Vera Farmiga. It's loosely based on some novelist's memoirs, and it follows a woman named Corrine who has spent the vast majority of her life immersed in a tightly-knit community of Fundamentalist Christians. Her life with them has been fine, but the older she grows, thew more her closeness to them begins to fracture. She starts to have a crisis of faith, and her task of trying to be simultaneously holy and worldly really takes a toll on her and those around her. This is an emotional, challenging, and thoughtful film, and Expected it to be no less than this given it's and indie, and someone like Farmiga is at the helm. She's a great actress, an intellectual feminist, and very sensitive when it comes to shedding light on the particular subjects the film deals with, namely, how to be a good faithful Fundamentalist, yet also be a believer in feminism. Besides herself, Farmiga acts alongside a crack cast that includes reliable supporters like John Hawkes, Joshua Leonard, Norbert Leo Butz, and Dagmara Dominczyk among others. All of the performances are quite good, and you can see that this was really an earnest labor of love for them. Movies like Saved! had previously tackled this kind of subject matter, but I found this treatment to be quite fresh and absorbing. As someone who has personally had his faith tested, I felt I could relate to this film to some degree, but I really don't know how an atheist or some other type of person would react to this. As such, maybe it's best to just treat this as primarily a character study instead of a specific treatise or something. The music is good, the camera work is decent, and the film is actually about something important, yet is also entertaining. As such, this is definitely one I recommend. I also hope to see more directorial work from Farmiga in the future, because, even though I love her acting, she really shows a lot of promise behind the camera, too.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

½

Poignant thought-provoking moments strung together in an overall poorly-structured piece. I really wanted to like this movie since there was a lot of material that I felt I could be personally connected with. However, I don't feel like I got to know anybody in the film. Especially the supporting character. Some many "special" relationships felt surprisingly empty due to the lack of depth that the supporting characters are given. It is an interesting first film and one that had a lot of really good ideas. Sadly though, they werent fleshed out as well as I would have wanted and it was hard to get really immersed in the film.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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