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Stars: Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Marcel Ruiz, Mike Colter, Sam Trammell, Dennis Haysbert

Director: Roxann Dawson

Those priceless critics' crib-sheets - better known, perhaps, as press notes - inform us that this saccharine story of 'unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds' is based on a true story.

The setting is Missouri (well played by Winnipeg, Manitoba) where youngster John Smith (Ruiz) falls through the ice on a frozen lake and, trapped underwater for 15 minutes, is pronounced dead when he is finally brought out of the water.

Which is when his adoptive mother Metz, declining to accept his death, grabs his feet and, saying 'Holy Spirit, please bring back my son right now'.

'His injuries are catastrophic,' states the attending doctor.

But, and against all the odds (but remember, this is Hollywood after all) and with the support of pastor Grace, Metz's claim that 'I believe God can heal our son completely', is realised and the lad lives...

It says much for director Dawson that the inevitably emotional story works well enough on its own evangelistic terms and within its own obvious creative limits, despite an inevitably sentiment-drenched screenplay (Grant Nieporte, from the book by Joyce Smith).

Metz gives her role all it requires and sometimes a tad more and, inevitably, dominates the drama, while Grace does all that's required of him.

(When I was the school 16mm film projectionist at boarding school in East Africa, we were treated to Westerns and free American promotional documentaries on Saturdays, while on Sundays we were shown religion-based dramas, usually courtesy of local missionaries. Breakthrough - although better made and happily less preachy - inevitably brought back memories of the latter).

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 May 2019