It seems fitting that the last time we saw Vera Farmiga she was comforting and guiding alone a disembodied man in the film "Source Code". She could probably get many out of body men to do whatever she wants them to do! She is not only a fine actress, but a drop dead sexy gal as well!


"Higher Ground" is Vera's directing debut that finds her character, Corrine, challenging her own Christian beliefs throughout her life. But much like her strong characters in "Source Code" and "Up in the Air", Corrine never truly waivers, she merely deviates from paths that she reevaluates.


McKenzie Turner is Corrine as a young girl. We learn early on that she is an avid reader, something that is embraced as well as eschewed by those around her. He reading habits empower her to ask questions and to politely question what she hears.

As is normal in a devout Christian family, she is encouraged and accepts Christianity into her life, in a status quo manner.


Taissa Farmiga takes over the role of Corrine as a young woman in her 20s. She is wooed by and marries Ethan (Joshua Leonard) who is fairly religious, and the wind up having a daughter.


But tragedy nearly strikes the young family and Corrine, who was beginning to wander away from Christianity becomes born again; she and Ethan are positive that their escape from sure death was an act of God.


Now begins an almost mind altering time in her life of evangelical worship and influence. But we still see the same Corrine reading other books much to the dismay of other church ladies.

Now we get to Corrine as a woman (Vera Farminga) questioning her Chrsitian beliefs and the way those beliefs have altered her life causing her to miss out on parts of life.


This is the Vera Farminga we recall from "Up in the Air" who challenged George Clooney to have an affair. This is the same Farminga we remember who got Jake Gyllenhaal to return time and time again to blow himself up in "Source Code". And ultimately this is our favorite Corrine.


"Higher Ground" is Farminga's directorial debut and, as was the case with Clint Eastwood and Ben Affleck, a sterling first effort that shows behind the camera promise. And although it won't win her an Oscar like Robert Redford's first effort ("Ordinary People"), it indicates Farminga was paying attention to mentors Martin Scorsese (The Departed), Mark Herman ("The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"), and Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") when they directed her.


The film is adapted from Carolyn Briggs' memoir This Dark World by Briggs and does set an early tone for adapted screenplay considerations.


"Higher Ground" is a clear reflection of Vera Farminga characters throughout her stellar career. It is likely that faith based groups will equally approve and disapprove of it, but that only shows the films believability.   -- GEOFF BURTON