For fans of the best-selling book the movie is based on this will be a treat. But as a cinematic story, it fails to create a satisfying narrative; it’s too caught up in explaining its minor details to focus on the big picture. Rated 1½ stars out of 4.
Not all stories are created equal. Amazing true stories can be remarkable for their sheer wonder and seemingly unbelievable qualities — but those details might not translate into an amazing movie.
This is the case with “90 Minutes in Heaven,” based on the best-selling book of the same name by Don Piper. Based on his own incredible life story, the film adaptation is an all-too-faithful rendition of this spiritual tale, where minor details get mistaken for crucial moments.
In 1989, Don Piper (Hayden Christensen), a minister and married father of three, was in a head-on collision with a big rig on a bridge in driving rain. Paramedics could find no pulse at the scene and his body was left underneath a tarp, presumed dead, for 90 minutes, until another pastor prayed and sang over him.
Movie Review ★½
‘90 Minutes in Heaven,’ with Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth. Directed by Michael Polish. 121 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense accident and injury images. Several theaters.
Don miraculously was revived, but not until after he had a vision of heavenly glories. Don endured a long, painful path to recovery that tested his faith, family and self-worth.
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It’s certainly a remarkable story about the perseverance of the human spirit and the lessons that one can learn in a near-death experience. However, the film is a little too concerned with the veracity of its own details, sacrificing satisfying cinematic storytelling in the process.
Scenes with his wife Eva (Kate Bosworth) letting out a primal scream of frustration in the McDonald’s drive thru certainly help to color in the real experiences of these characters. But they are all treated with the kind of soaring dramatic strings that signify Something Important is happening, but then are promptly abandoned.
For fans of Piper’s book the movie will be a welcome treat, with high-quality filmmaking and legitimate stars in Christensen and Bosworth. But as a cinematic story, it fails to create a satisfying narrative with a true arc that pays off.