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Higher Ground (2011)

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A chronicle of one woman's lifelong struggle with her faith.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pastor Bill
McKenzie Turner ...
Kathleen Walker
Matthew Dubas ...
Taylor Schwencke ...
Young Wendy Walker
Jillian Lindig ...
Mrs. Tuttle
Alden Rosakranse ...
James Noon ...
Kaitlyn Rae King ...
Teenage Wendy Walker


Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, HIGHER GROUND, depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community thrown off-kilter when one of their own begins to question her faith. Inspired by screenwriter Carolyn S. Briggs' memoir This Dark World, the film tells the story of a thoughtful woman's struggles with belief, love, and trust - in human relationships as well as in God. Written by Sony Pictures Classics

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

1 March 2012 (New Zealand)  »

Also Known As:

This Dark World  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,495, 28 August 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$841,206, 1 January 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vera Farmiga's directorial debut. See more »


At the therapist's office, the wall clock is clearly not working as the second hand is not moving. See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Favorite Films Based on Books (2013) See more »


Create In Me a Clean Heart
Arranged by Keith Green
Performed by Oliver Wood, Jorgen Jorgensen and The Believers
See more »

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User Reviews

The genius of Higher Ground
17 June 2012 | by See all my reviews

A lot of folks are posting to point out that HG is just plain boring. I say it's not.

What it is, is mundane. Farmiga set herself a difficult hurdle. She decided that she wanted to set this odyssey in the context of the life of, really, an ordinary woman. And so there's a notable wash of the quotidian over the whole movie; lots of pastels and a paucity of striking drama and color. Who buys a ticket to eat oatmeal? Well, there are a couple of redemptive factors, esthetically speaking.

One thing she does is place flashpoint moments of pretty intense drama, such as when the personality conflict with her husband culminates in violence; a real white-knuckler! And, that being merely a notable punctuation point in the action, a careful tracking shows the flick to be a kind of moderated exposition, ranging from the truly mundane to some pretty challenging stuff; and everything in between and every which way.

HG is an invitation to lovingly and thoughtfully consider those of our brethren who have addressed their existential crises by buying into this particular "out"; socializing themselves into fundamentalism.

Interestingly, the eye of the camera viewing this epic could be the fairly dispassionate eye of a deistic god: For example, I found the scene where our heroine meets with a "prophetic" councilor particularly challenging. It requires that we get off our duffs, roll up our sleeves, and personally address the issue: From whence do persons who promote themselves as social arbiters derive their credentials? Does his firm, unblinking claim to divine calling overrule the intuitions of women who simply feel unfulfilled? HG is, I think, carefully directed to leave you to answer this, and other questions, in the tabernacle of your own heart. This will naturally put off some moviegoers who never really felt that this was the purpose of film.

I'm not kidding: I'm fully aware that this style of filmmaking puts off plenty of people. Farmiga didn't make this film to be popular: She made it to be honest with herself.

And perhaps that's the foundation point of the best recommendation for this flick: How often do you get to see films like that?

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