Among the many potential obstacles facing modern “faith-based” movies is the stubborn insistence upon focusing on faith as a subject, when that might actually be a story’s least interesting subject. This one adapts the memoir by Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner), a Texas mom whose 10-year-old daughter Annabelle (Kylie Rogers) faces a potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal illness. Down the road there will be an improbable event that could save Annabelle’s life—and as it turns out it’s waaaay down the road, leaving more than an hour of medical crisis. But along the way, it touches on the way families can struggle with such a chronic condition, whether through marital tension, financial insecurity or the sacrifices demanded of siblings. That—and the mama-bear ferocity of Garner’s Christy in trying to get Annabelle the care she needs—should be the center of this narrative. Instead, it all winds up feeling like foot-tapping and throat-clearing on the way to Annabelle’s Monet-infused vision of the afterlife. Yes, Christy wrestles with doubt, but that’s not nearly as compelling as wrestling with having a child who doesn’t know if she wants to go on living.
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