ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘Breakthrough’ much more moving than I expected

Published 2:36 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019

I did not rush to this film. I had read about it and saw the trailer. I thought about going, but got distracted by something else.

The plot is a simple one. Young boys fall through the ice on a frozen pond.

I could have been that boy. When I was a young teenager I played on a frozen pond

Roger Thomas

for hours. We even played soccer on the ice. Our soccer ball was a large tin can. The ice creaked a little, but it never cracked. We were lucky.

The real characters of the new film “Breakthrough” had a much more difficult journey.

I embraced most of the actors. Chrissy Metz has been doing great work on television’s “This Is Us” since that show started. She offers, week after week, an incredible performance, but I think her work in this film might even be better.

Josh Lucas plays Brian Smith, the father of the patient. Dennis Haysbert plays the lead doctor of the boy who fell in the water and lost a pulse for many minutes.

That boy is John Smith, and he is played by Marcel Ruiz. Ruiz spends much of his screen time unconscious, but I felt his screen time, when he is conscious, was outstanding. I am looking forward to his next project. Surely someone will cast him in a lead role.

When it comes to actors and roles, there is only one misstep in the film. It was Topher Grace’s role as Pastor Jason Noble.

Some of my readers know that I am an ordained minister. There were things Grace did well in his portrayal of the clergy.

It certainly had some elements that seemed authentic, but I just never fully believed this man was a pastor.

At the end of the film there are pictures of the real people who lived this miraculous story. Seeing the actual Pastor Jason Noble might explain why he seems awkward from what I had focused in my mind.

It may be Grace’s take of the real man or Grace may be hitting the man spot-on. In my opinion, Grace’s is more awkward than one would want in such a significant crisis.

However, the pastor aside, the rest of the film had some good reparations of faith. Much of the dialogue is moving. Faith is respected in the film. Yet there are disagreements and those who are struggling with their faith.

In the film there are degrees of faith. The mother would be layer one if it was charted, and all those behind her would have some other degree of John’s possibility of survival.

One other part of the story I have not mentioned is another possible miracle.

In the film there is the fire-rescue worker who believes he heard God. As he struggles both with his own sanity and the answers he is waiting for, he also waits to see if he will ever meet the boy he saved.

It might have been the mood I was in. It was just a simple day. I was not sad or happy before I went into the theatre.

However, as I said earlier, I cried more in this film than I have in quite a while. It is not because “Breakthrough” is a great film, though it is a good film. But what makes it special is that it has a great theme: Hope.

One final thought about the danger of walking on ice. When my friends and I got caught for walking on the pond, all of my friends got punished. It was not pleasant for them.

On the other hand, my parents were at a church meeting so when the owner called our house I apologized and promised that I would never do that again.

As far as I know, my parents never learned about the frozen lake before their passing.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.