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Heaven is For Real


Stars: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Conor Corum, Margo Martindale, Lane Styles, Nancy Sorel

Director: Randall Wallace

Kinnear and Reilly give sincere, appealing and nicely grounded performances in this film realisation of the best-selling book about the near-death experiences of hard-up pastor Todd Burpo's four-year-old son (Corum) who, while undergoing an emergency appendectomy, saw Heaven, angels and Jesus, as well as himself on the operating table. He also acquired knowledge that could not have been assimilated on earth.

Perhaps unfortunately (or fortunately, given the subsequent book sales), the Burpos (Kinnear, Reilly) made rather a big deal of this, choosing more or less to go public with the boy's revelations, bringing the media to their Nebraska door, and causing Todd to call a time-out on his ministry at the local Wesleyan chapel.

The film's problem is that its premise is slim and, despite the director's attempts to introduce other plot elements - Todd also works, part-time for the town's fire service and tries to help a fellow parishioner (Martindale) over the grief of her soldier son's death - the film, once its premise is established, does not, as you might anticipate, really get anywhere. It is what it is, and audiences for its story may be pretty limited.

Excellent countryside photography by the veteran Dean Semler decorates the believe-it-or-not tale.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Sony (Tri-Star). Colour by deluxe.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 May 2014