Box art for Higher Ground

Higher Ground


Pregnant, married, and awkward at eighteen years old, Carolyn Briggs grows more and more interested in Jesus, eventually giving herself over to a radical New Testament church.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 16
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
4 out of 5
3 out of 5
2 out of 5

Moving drama about faith and doubt dares to be smart.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this affecting, complex drama depicts a faithful woman struggling to reconcile her doubts with her religious beliefs. It's a bracingly honest portrayal that doesn't buy into the typical stereotypes of either the pious or the questioning. The lead character starts her relationship with God in earnest as a teen mom; the road that leads her there is revealed straightforwardly: She's shown having premarital sex (though there's no nudity) and struggling to understand the adults around her, many of whom have lost their moorings themselves. These are heavy themes, which -- along with the movie's sexual content (in addition to teens having sex, characters also frankly discuss body parts and how to pleasure the opposite sex) and swearing -- makes it a better fit for older viewers.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts Corinne and her faith. How does she compare to other religious/spiritual characters you've seen in other movies/TV shows?
  • How does the movie tackle the complex topics of Christianity, religion, and faith? How does it compare to other movies that have examined the same subjects?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Higher Ground reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: The crucial thing about Higher Ground is that it takes at face value the faces, many bearded, almost all beatific, that the camera surveys -- quite an achievement, given Hollywood's woeful record in the dramatizing of faith.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fresh: This film might easily have settled for mocking religion. Instead, it's a fascinating glimpse into a culture that forces some people to choose between fitting in and opting out.

- Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Friday, September 16, 2011

Fresh: At times, these analogies feel forced. But give the rookie filmmaker credit for visual storytelling.

- Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, September 15, 2011

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Faith and Feminism: The Movie. That's a pretty good way to describe this, the directorial debut of its star Vera Farmiga. It's loosely based on some novelist's memoirs, and it follows a woman named Corrine who has spent the vast majority of her life immersed in a tightly-knit community of Fundamentalist Christians. Her life with them has been fine, but the older she grows, thew more her closeness to them begins to fracture. She starts to have a crisis of faith, and her task of trying to be simultaneously holy and worldly really takes a toll on her and those around her. This is an emotional, challenging, and thoughtful film, and Expected it to be no less than this given it's and indie, and someone like Farmiga is at the helm. She's a great actress, an intellectual feminist, and very sensitive when it comes to shedding light on the particular subjects the film deals with, namely, how to be a good faithful Fundamentalist, yet also be a believer in feminism. Besides herself, Farmiga acts alongside a crack cast that includes reliable supporters like John Hawkes, Joshua Leonard, Norbert Leo Butz, and Dagmara Dominczyk among others. All of the performances are quite good, and you can see that this was really an earnest labor of love for them. Movies like Saved! had previously tackled this kind of subject matter, but I found this treatment to be quite fresh and absorbing. As someone who has personally had his faith tested, I felt I could relate to this film to some degree, but I really don't know how an atheist or some other type of person would react to this. As such, maybe it's best to just treat this as primarily a character study instead of a specific treatise or something. The music is good, the camera work is decent, and the film is actually about something important, yet is also entertaining. As such, this is definitely one I recommend. I also hope to see more directorial work from Farmiga in the future, because, even though I love her acting, she really shows a lot of promise behind the camera, too.

- cosmo313, Thursday, November 1, 2012

2 stars

Poignant thought-provoking moments strung together in an overall poorly-structured piece. I really wanted to like this movie since there was a lot of material that I felt I could be personally connected with. However, I don't feel like I got to know anybody in the film. Especially the supporting character. Some many "special" relationships felt surprisingly empty due to the lack of depth that the supporting characters are given. It is an interesting first film and one that had a lot of really good ideas. Sadly though, they werent fleshed out as well as I would have wanted and it was hard to get really immersed in the film.

- axadntpron, Friday, January 13, 2012

4 stars

Huge believability (no double entendre intended) factor in this movie. It managed an insiders look at a closed religious community without becoming either preachy or dismissing the faith of those involved. It's just the story of one woman's trying and failing to feel the affect of pure belief. Nicely told. Ambiguous ending was just the right tone, because matters of faith and what community you chose to belong to are not matters that get settled in two hours or even, sometimes, a life-time.

- bathshebamonk, Thursday, October 27, 2011