Vera Farmiga, along with being five months pregnant in her own life at the time, tackles yet another interesting topic that could have been overly inflammatory although with her, it is not. Using an honesty and bravery which she is so easily capable of in this film which is also, her directorial debut. She is looking at the subject of one woman's (Corrine Miller, also portrayed by Farmiga) faith and the trust she has in it. Along with this comes the eventual questioning about herself through the vehicle of the 1970's Fundamentalist movement. This portrait has a lovely soundtrack (Alec Puro) that brings this all to life and is definitely worth noting. Farmiga directs without the condescending or mocking tone towards Christianity which is often present in films. It has an intelligence along with a broader appeal, to the believer and the nonbeliever alike. It is a question of personal faith, not of righteousness through Christianity.
The movie starts with Corrine's childhood in Vacation Bible School with the pastor, Bud (done surprisingly by Bill Irwin). The picture quickly shifts to Corrine's teenage years. She (Taissa Farmiga, Vera's actual younger sister) is a writer and meets her future spouse, Ethan Miller (here, Boyd Holbrook, then an older, Joshua Miller. The younger Ethan wants her to write for his rock band. They eventually marry and a short while after their first daughter is born. A heart-pounding tragedy then happens. This leads the couple to their established adult family life in a fundamental tight-knit church community. Ethan has given up the rock life and is an elder in their church. Corrine is a devoted and devout young wife and mother. Add to the mix her best friend, Annika (Dagmara Dominczykz) whom Corrine is so close to. She adds light, color, and life to their friendship. 'Nika' is extremely devout herself as she is also playful, sometimes silly, and fun for Corrine.
There are so many happenings throughout the fifteen-year marriage, both in her church life and her personal life. Vera Farmiga handles this with a special skill and precision, which leads our protagonist to doubt and the questioning of her faith. Corrine begs God to help her to "feel" Him again. At this point, she says that she "feels nothing" when she "used to be so full". One situation which occurs is horrific to happen to Nika and to their relationship together. I could literally feel the pain of it rip right through Corrine in a powerful reaction in their church. I also saw the seeds of a huge loss grow ever deeper as it would send anyone reeling. Nika is her confidante in life, her dearest friend, and the only one she goes to because she is able to question everything along with her.
Adding laughter of life with friends and family situations, CW (John Hawkes, one of my favorite character actors) portrays Corrine's father and injects some humor, although the piece itself is in no way a comedy. Humor is mainly brought into this story from the two friends which keeps their union fresh and close. What they say or do may be frowned upon by the church although I saw it as anything any two extremely close` women would share in some instances. This is another reason I find this movie so relevant, these two are friends in the truest form.
The ending is quite eye-opening for Corrine, without giving anything away. We simply see Corrine, who has gone through just about everything unexpected in the film, walking out into the bright sunshine on the street. This leaves an open-ended conclusion and a conclusion for the viewer to decide. See this for its great storytelling and provocative theme. Also see this for a lively discussion afterward. It was very helpful for me on a personal level and left me thinking on it for a long while, this is why I purchased it. I will watch it from time to time having fresh ideas about certain happenings within the film. A perfect piece to see with a spouse, significant other or friend to have a great discussion with afterward every time.