In the new movie, HIGHER GROUND, talented actress Vera Farmiga makes her debut as a director, but she should probably stick to acting.
Farmiga not only directs the film; she also stars as Corrine, an evangelical Christian, who over the course of five or six years loses much of her Christian faith.
Unfortunately, in spite of some good acting and several powerful scenes, the movie is long, slow and never quite comes together as a story.
The movie begins with Corrine's childhood experience of Christianity; then it shows her teenage years. (Farmiga's younger sister, Taissa, plays the teenaged Corrine.)
But the movie is really about what happens when as a young married woman, Corrine's family survives a bus accident. She and her husband, Ethan, become evangelical Christians, joining a small fundamentalist church, where they fit right in.
But after a few years, the faith that has nourished Corrine seems a bit lacking. She wants to experience god's presence directly and she's bitterly disappointed when that doesn't happen.
And when Corrine loses the one friend she could talk to, her doubts become stronger than her faith.
HIGHER GROUND is based on a memoir called "This Dark World: a Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost." That's a hard process to dramatize and this screenplay feels like a noble failure in spite of Farmiga's fine performance.
The actress conveys the vulnerability, the confusion, and the growing strength of the main character, but the script feels less like a story than a long slice of a frustrating life.
HIGHER GROUND doesn't bash fundamentalist Christians, but it shows the limitations of their rather narrow approach to life.