I wasn’t going to go. As an online student, homework never stops—not for snow days, sick days, or when you are recruited to photograph an out-of-state 3-day conference…or something like that.
But guess what? I was recruited to be the event photographer for EPA’s conference in Oklahoma. When I arrived and finally snagged an event schedule I saw the only hope to get my assignments finished by the mid-week deadlines: Monday’s agenda ended at 3 PM which left the rest of the afternoon available for a fun activity on your own and ended with a special pre-release film for our group.
My fun activity? Homework. And the movie? It looked nice but I would rather sleep. Then during lunch announcements the rl pastor came on stage and they played a scene from the film.
I was hooked. The fierce mama character brought humor and life that I never saw in the trailer and movie flyer. She convinced me to give it a try. And during one part of the trailer the mother gazes up at a clear night sky and can only whisper “I surrender.” I felt God calling me, showing me, where my own spirit needs to reach.
Why is surrender so difficult?
But Breakthrough is about more than one character, or even one family, it is cinematic story of a true miracle that happened only a few years ago.
My atheist/agnostic friends like to talk about how “interesting” it is that miracles don’t happen as frequently today—when we can record and test it—as they did in Biblical times. But miracles are happening all around us, in our circles and across the world, and this film gives a platform to one that shook America.
Instead of saying “just trust us, it’s a miracle,” the producers use documented medical proof and witness to declare God’s hand in this event. Both the film and the speaker at our lunch shared the striking phrase found in the medical record:
Patient dead, mother prayed, patient came back to life.
On a lighter note, this film has a phenomenal cast and you get the sense that every actor knows they are recreating a story that is bigger than themselves. We get to see Sweet Home Alabama’s heart throb Josh Lucas, and Eric from That 70’s Show teleports to portray the likeable yet adorable pastor, as well as my personal favorite, the All State Guy. I desperately waited for him to make any reference to hands and being good in them but alas…probably something with copyrights.
The leading lady, John’s mom, played by Chrissy Metz made me forget this family was a collection of actors and didn’t actually exist. She brought joy, fear, and fierce love to the screen with a depth that I rarely find in movies these days.
I am so grateful I got to see this film. I cried more than I expected. And as I said on Instagram, my only complaints are the cinematography. Several times during the traumatic and shocking scenes (when the rescuers try to revive John) the camera zooms into the chest compressions, which would be fine, but instead of being shocking, the screen is filled with what looks like stage compressions— the actors don’t press on the body but bend their elbows because they are using a real person who does not need CPR.
Compared to the mind-bending effects of Marvel films which have trained my eye for the gory punches and slices, the theatrics pulled me out of the film and felt like a recording of a play. Had the camera stayed back instead of focusing on the hands I would have never noticed.
I think more could have been done for the animation at the beginning of the film—but as a student of animation I might be biased.
And there’s one scene where the pastor talks to John’s dad alone on a stairway that has waaay to many camera positions. It feels overly dramatic and the message is cluttered with shifts in perspective—too close, over the shoulder, over that other shoulder, now over here, now there. Josh Lucas is a phenomenal actor who can re-shoot the scene multiple times from multiple camera perspectives, but that doesn’t always me he should have to.
The constructive criticism behind us, my final verdict is go see this film.
Yes, I say that a lot (partly because I love movies and always want to have a discussion about what you thought), but Breakthrough movie is inspiring and, for me, refreshing.
It wasn’t just seeing the characters hand over control to God, although I can always use a refresher on that, but eons ago I was inspired to pursue some sort of career in film because I felt Christian media was lagging behind Hollywood. Breakthrough movie gives me hope because clearly others with more power and position feel the same way, and are already doing something about it.
Breakthrough reaches theaters on April 17th, just in time for Easter, and ends with a great question:
Why does God save some and not others?
What do you think? Grab your tickets and let me know!
Report Card: Breakthrough movie
Animation/Acting: C/A+ respectively = B+
Overall Score: A-