This is what a faith-based movie should be. A well-written story with a highly talented cast that makes for a high-quality film with solid production values.
The topnotch ensemble will touch the hearts of audiences of faith, and maybe even those with no walk of faith.
This is based on the book, previously published as “The Impossible” and now as “Breakthrough: The Miraculous True Story of a Mother’s Faith and her Child’s Resurrection,” based on the inspirational true story of a mother who refused to give up against seemingly impossible odds.
The show opens in 2015 with an ordinary, loving family. Joyce (Chrissy Metz, “This is Us”) lives with her husband (Josh Lucas, “Sweet Home Alabama”) and 14-year-old son John (Marcel Ruiz, television’s “One Day at a Time.”)
The family’s life is centered around their faith, although Joyce isn’t too keen on the church’s new pastor (Topher Grace.) She questions his taste in music and just plain doesn’t like his style in general.
Clearly, John is having some problems. He isn’t doing well in school, where he gives his teacher and his coach attitude. A class assignment goes awry when John takes it personally, afterward revealing much of what troubles him.
One day, John and some friends are messing around on the ice when it cracks, and John falls through. He’s under water several minutes before firefighters, one of whom has a profoundly moving experience during the event, bring him to the surface.
The boy ends up in critical condition in a hospital where his mother prays over him. Eventually, his schoolmates and the community join in prayer.
His father almost can’t stand to see his son such a condition. “I believe, but maybe that only goes so far with something like this,” the anguished dad says.
Regardless of John’s medical prognosis, Joyce refuses to even consider the possibility of her son’s death.
What happens next probably will not come as a surprise. That’s fine, because I’m guessing most of the people in the audience will have read the book, seen the movie trailer or at least have a passing familiarity with the story. This isn’t a plot that hinges on a big reveal.
Metz’s performance alone will move you to tears, even though you might not share her perspective on what happened. Grace is engaging as the pastor who looks beyond differences to provide comfort for Joyce and her family.
Skepticism, along with difficult questions and mocking from some characters, are part of the story that always acknowledges the importance of the medical team that tends to John.
This isn’t just faith-affirming. It’s also life-affirming.