Corinne (Vera Farmiga) grew up quite fast. The child of a mismatched, unhappy marriage, she sought attention elsewhere and married young and had a baby. Her husband, Ethan (Joshua Leonard), tried his hand as a musician and on a band road trip their child nearly dies in a bus crash. After this brush with death, Corinne and Ethan turn to the religion Corinne knew as a child and end up becoming part of an evangelical community. In this commune the young family finds peace and meaning and they embrace the conservative ideas of the group’s leader, Bill (Norbert Leo Butz). But as her family grows, so does Corinne’s doubt and as she wrestles with her faith, she finds that her community is unable to handle her unrest.
Unfortunately for Higher Ground, Farmiga’s work both behind and in front of the camera is no match for the dull nature of the film’s narrative. This is one of the more boring experiences you’ll likely have with a film this year, which is a shame because I found the lacking storyline to be an immense hindrance to becoming invested in the film. I don’t think this is a case of poor pacing or bad choices from the director. In fact, I feel that Farmiga does a good job of piecing together the story and fleshing out the parts that have the best chance of becoming connectible. I believe the problem is found within the source material which is simply doesn’t translate well to the screen. There’s very little within Higher Ground that you could describe as exciting, relevant, or even mildly intriguing. Some stories work well both as pieces of literary non-fiction and films; some do not. In this case, that lack of cinematic value results in a somewhat meaningless and decidedly uninteresting viewing that doesn’t measure up to the quality of Farmiga’s work on the project.