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The new film Heaven offers a positive message of hope for people broken by sin and sorrow. But artistic and theological quirks detract from the film starring, written, and directed by Angus Benfield.
The storyline cycles through several periods in Jonathan (Benfield) and Elizabeth Stone’s (Michelle Fozounmayeh) lives. They grieve their premarital abortion and face Elizabeth’s terminal cancer diagnosis. Several forward flashes depict a pleasant afterlife, but heaven resembles a state park (dead, brown leaves and all) and offers only a modest improvement: The Stones enjoy a larger house and a self-replenishing apple pie.
“The best part,” Elizabeth notes, “you can eat all you want.”
The film (rated PG-13) teases the question of Jonathan’s manner of death—and goes all out. On the other hand, Jonathan’s reunion with his aborted daughter and first meeting with Jesus are painfully tepid.
Struggling dialogue, noticeable green screening, and a ubiquitous butterfly plague the production, as does the oft-repeated line, “It’s not over yet.” Jonathan’s fellow paramedic quips, “It’s my favorite catchphrase.”
Heaven does present a strong picture of marriage, and its hopeful outlook may resonate with viewers who’ve experienced grave illness or abortion.