Breakthrough (2019) — PICK

Based on an extraordinary true story, Breakthrough represents another small step for the faith-based film sector.

Directed by Star Trek: Voyager’s Roxann Dawson, the film recounts the events of the January day that 14-year-old John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), the adopted Guatemalan son of a devout Missouri couple, Joyce and Brian (Chrissy Metz and Josh Lucas), spent a quarter of an hour submerged in an icy lake after plunging through the ice.

Nearly 45 minutes after emergency workers pulled him out, doctors had given up on John — until his pulse returned as Joyce wept and prayed over him.

From the nonbelieving fireman who rescued Josh after hearing a mysterious voice tell him to go back to the eminent specialist who has no conventional explanation for John’s recovery, there are plenty of signposts pointing toward a miraculous interpretation of events.

But Breakthrough is nuanced enough to credit the rescue workers and medical professionals, as well, and to acknowledge thorny questions like why some people appear to get miracles and others don’t.

Joyce isn’t a typically idealized heroine, but a flawed believer who struggles and grows, among other things in her relationship with a likable but progressive pastor (Topher Grace). More faith-based films should be trying to do these things.


Caveat Spectator: Moderately intense medical drama; brief cursing. Probably okay for older kids and up.