Higher Ground


Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 26, 2011
    One of the few open-minded Hollywood movies about Christian fundamentalism, but the mind isn't sufficiently exploratory.
  2. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Aug 24, 2011
    At times, Higher Ground feels like a lower-stakes "Welcome To The Dollhouse" for adults: It's a systematically built portrait of disappointment and despair, centering on a perpetual underdog looking for affection and surety in any possible form. But while Higher Ground is less painful than Dollhouse, it's also less passionate.
  3. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Aug 23, 2011
    Even with her beatific face (the actress looks like one of Parmigianino's Madonnas), Farmiga is never wholly believable as a woman shaken by a crisis of belief.
  4. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Aug 20, 2011
    Higher Ground is a weird film with some very nice moments, but its odd and offbeat combination of comic touches, serious spiritual subject matter and occasional surrealist interludes never quiet gels.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Nov 13, 2011
    "Jesus Camp", the 2006 film that profiles Becky Fischer, the controversial, and to some, downright dangerous pastor who runs the Kids on Fire"Jesus Camp", the 2006 film that profiles Becky Fischer, the controversial, and to some, downright dangerous pastor who runs the Kids on Fire Ministry, is needlessly didactic in its filmic approach. Easily identifiable as a cult, the filmmakers, nevertheless, reiterates this empirical truth with blunt force by framing the movie's narrative surrounding the youth-targeted, hyper-ideological church's rightist rhetoric(smells like child abuse) around a liberal talk show host ranting from his soapbox on how the evangelicals seem to be wrong about almost everything. Viewers, reasonable viewers, that is, with eyes and ears, can make that determination for themselves, minus the liberalist nudging. Every year, the pastor's young flock meets up at Devil's Lake, a politically-minded indoctrination camp masquerading as a holy place for praising god in North Dakota, where the conservative agenda gets programmed into these moldable minds without apology. Blinded by her own zealotry, the pastor can't see the lunacy behind the notion of using children as pro-life activists, when the filmmakers show Fischer the raw footage of an anti-abortionist, creepily handing out fetus replicas for the children to hold and opine upon. For a split second, we think she'll see daylight. But alas, no. "Extreme liberals," she spews, with unchecked ego and hubris, "they have to look at this and start shaking in their boots," oblivious to the fact that it's not just liberals, but apolitical Christians, too, who may find her approach disturbing. After all, higher ground is hardly what Fischer and her kind are reaching for, but rather, it's a ground beneath the clouds, not above; it's federal ground, where politicians, not carpenters walk. To paraphrase Belinda Carlisle, government is a place on earth. Unlike "Jesus Camp", which is marred by the filmmakers' subjective approach, therefore creating a dialectic which ends up overstating the case that parents shouldn't push their children into rote worship of THEIR god, "Higher Ground" gives you the freedom to make up your own mind about the Christian world. That's because the director, a self-described liberal secularist, isn't a conservative-bashing ideologue. Unlike the alternative cinema presented by theological filmmakers, "Higher Ground" doesn't spoonfeed the gospel; it subverts the shopworn trope of a parishoner who loses his/her faith by keeping the lost soul lost to the bitter end. Without overselling the point, and without judgment, Farmiga too, shows us how children have no choice in matters concerning god, as we catch up with a young Corrine in midstream of her religious training at a Protestant church, where during a Sunday school lesson, Pastor Bud asks his kids if they want to go to heaven. It's practically a rhetorical question, a veiled threat, since the alternative, hell, isn't Corrine's idea of a good time, so she raises her hand and makes a covenant with god. It's the spiritual awakening that the mother always wanted for her girl, but a miscarriage performed the effect of secularizing this former magical thinking woman, who prior to her faith-shaking tragedy, would have been delighted that Corrine got saved. Alas, she receives the "good news" from the pastor with complete indifference. Like the protagonist in "Secret Sunshine", another grieving mother with an axe to grind against god, Kathleen seduces the pastor(the pianist goes further with her pious target), since the lord is unavailable for prurient temptation. In the Lee Chang-dong film, a celluloidal sister to "Higher Ground", the Korean mom, whose son is murdered after she fails to pay the ransom set by his kidnapper in full, drinks the kool-aid that Christians serve; the self-delusional prattling that mystifies non-believers, for instance, the pragmatist in "Rabbit Hole", who figures out that making a new angel is a far better plan than the tragedian one that god has in store for us. The mom starts to gag on the kool-aid, following a visit with her child's murderer in prison, and experiences first-hand, the lunacy of Christian dogma, which allows any sin to be forgiven, even murder, as long as you tell god you love him. (Respect Mimi Rodgers' decision in "The Rapture".) The anesthetized woman is shocked to learn that the killer prays for her. Like mother, like daughter, in "Higher Ground", the Stepford wife loses her conviction in the sacrosanct word after Annika, a good friend, stops speaking in tongues, and then stops speaking altogether, when brain tumor silences Corrine's true soulmate. She finds no grace from suffering. It doesn't make Corrine a heretic; it makes her human. Down deep inside, Corrine knows that god is a lie, but you can tell, just by looking at her face as she walks out of the church for the final time, that her feminism and intelligence are cold comforts in comparison to the warm embrace of subjugation in the patriarchal order of Christianity. Full Review »
  2. Oct 2, 2011
    This drama begins with the protagonist as a young girl who finds Christ at church. As she grows, she becomes a woman (Vera Farmiga), whoThis drama begins with the protagonist as a young girl who finds Christ at church. As she grows, she becomes a woman (Vera Farmiga), who struggles with her faith in a small community of conservatives that first look like hippies. As director, Vera Farmiga has filled her cast with effective, genuine performances and the story is an intelligent examination. However, there's a lack of emotional dynamics that renders the film lacking in soul. Interesting, but somewhat flat. Full Review »
  3. Feb 28, 2016
    Enjoyable film. Vera Farmiga is always great!! I really liked the plot. Well worth a watch.

    Watch it here for free:
    Enjoyable film. Vera Farmiga is always great!! I really liked the plot. Well worth a watch.

    Watch it here for free: https://www.primewire.ag/watch-2572779-Higher-Ground-online-free
    Full Review »