Higher Ground [Blu-ray] Vera Farmiga

Higher Ground [Blu-ray] Vera Farmiga
The assertion that faith comes from within is an odd one, especially considering that the concept of faith, at least in the organized, cooperative sense, is external and typically indoctrinated as a mode of ego reward in socialization during the formative years. For example, a child born into a religious household is more likely to receive positive reinforcement and be included socially should they merely assimilate to the dominant external ideologies. The same goes for any community wherein a collective sense of morality dominates. Children learn to adapt in order to fit in, just as homosexuals will force relationships with members of the opposite sex to avoid the discomfort of social rejection and isolation. This idea of faith as an external force applied to internal instinct is what drives Vera Farmiga's sharply clever and often hilarious directorial debut. It's about the lifelong struggle of a woman (Vera and Taissa Farmiga) to figure out exactly what her relationship to God is despite receiving no evidence of his existence, living in a religious vacuum of good intentions and hypocrisy. The men around her tend to view religion as dogma, adhering to out-dated rules and using scripture to control and manipulate women, while she and best friend Annika (Dagmara Dominiczyk) attempt to interpret it on a personal level, unable to force themselves into a box of arbitrary rules and guidelines contrary to the many signifiers that define them. And while this could come off as preachy or edifying, Farmiga is careful to frame each scene and event without severe judgment, often finding the idiosyncrasy of each moment, such as the loss of virginity in a field while a large black pig stares and grunts. If there is a flaw, it's that there is little flow in the film, as each scene exists as a tableau aesthetically unrelated to those surrounding it. Exacerbating this is the artistic decision to use only diegetic music, often of the Christian folk variety, leaving a lot of silence to fill reaction scenes and establishing shots. Farmiga discusses this on the commentary track, along with themes and on-set anecdotes, which are reiterated on the "Making of." Also included with the Blu-Ray are production notes, deleted scenes and outtakes, rounding out a comprehensive package. (Sony)