Breakthrough review – dreary real-life ‘resurrection’ drama | Film

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Here is another illustration of how the faith-based drama has pushed into cinemas material indistinguishable from vast swathes of the afternoon TV schedule. A true-life miracle has been sourced from Judith Smith’s memoir: the resurrection of the author’s adopted Guatemalan son John, declared clinically dead after falling through the ice on Lake St Louis in January 2015. Yet it is presented with no mystery and scant wonder; instead, we get two hours of flatly professional procedural.

Scene by scene, life-or-death reality is reduced to Sunday-school parable. Early sequences show Marcel Ruiz’s John, something of a novelty in his God-fearing, Caucasian neighbourhood, boosting his outsider reputation by shrugging off homework and feeding mama’s scrambled eggs to the dog, micro-rebellions that – in the film’s sexless, curse-free universe – signify he’s already skating on thin ice.

While we await his rebirth as a meekly assenting believer, seasoned TV director Roxann Dawson kills time with sidebars in which burly rescue workers and doctors question whether they too heard a voice out on the ice or saw signs in the OR, working overtime to claim John’s survival as divine intervention rather than, say, a consequence of devout medical care, or a teenage basketball player’s innate resilience.

Writer Grant Nieporte allows for small, semi-intriguing pockets of tension beneath the bland surface, such as an ongoing niggle between the film’s traditionalist Judith (Chrissy Metz) and jeans-sporting Pastor Jason (Topher Grace), whose fondness for Christian rap-rock threatens the sanctity of the congregation’s megachurch. Yet they’re smoothed over in a second half over-reliant on damp-eyed hyperventilation.

When a closing-credit photo appears showing the real John Smith posing with pals on the same frozen waters that nearly took his life, you too may hear voices, doubtless screaming: “For heaven’s sake, stop doing that.”

Source: The Guardian
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