WHAT TO SEE: Galvanizing faith against all odds
Chrissy Metz, Marcel Ruiz, Topher Grace, Dennis Haysbert, Josh Lucas
Run time: 116 min
Faced with insurmountable odds in the midst of a crisis, many people lose hope and give in to despair. Not Joyce Smith, whose adolescent son, John, suffered a near-drowning accident. Joyce’s account of the real-life events appears in Breakthrough, a new Christian film which opened in theaters during Easter week.
John (played by Marcel Ruiz), a Guatemalan native, is the adopted son of ex-missionaries Joyce and Brian Smith (Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas). Knowing he is adopted, he struggles with a sense of abandonment, which strains his relationship with his loving-but-some what controlling adoptive mother.
As John and two friends are playing on a frozen lake in suburban St. Louis, they fall through the ice and into near-freezing water. John suffers the worst of it; he is underwater for over 15 minutes and winds up in an emergency ward unresponsive, without a pulse despite 45 minutes of CPR and repeated defibrillation. The emergency-room medical team is prepared to call time of death when Joyce, in a moving scene reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Pieta, wails and prays loudly over her son’s lifeless body.
Suddenly, miraculously, John’s heart begins to beat again.
John is far from out of the woods and is still not expected to recover, but Joyce’s unwavering faith convinces the specialist in charge, Dr. Garrett (Dennis Haysbert, familiar from Allstate commercials), to continue John’s care in hopes of recovery.
While Brian struggles to maintain hope for his son, the family’s hip young pastor (Topher Grace) provides valuable support to Joyce, building a friendship that to that point had been rocky at best.
Buoyed by a talented cast, Breakthrough provides testament to the power of faith and the possibility of miracles — not only of physical healing, but spiritual healing as well. That makes this film especially poignant during this Easter season as we recall the death and resurrection of God’s own Son and our own hopes of one day rising to new life.
GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer