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"Under the Miracle of Heaven" is a scathing manifesto against the Mormon Church. Poignant and tiresome - voila! culture


The Disney Plus crime drama, which deals with a shocking murder case in a devout Mormon community, feels frenetic and busy and at the same time slow and tiresome.

"Under the Miracle of Heaven" is a scathing manifesto against the Mormon Church.

poignant and tiresome

There is something almost mystical about the fact that the crime drama, dealing with a shocking murder case in a devout Mormon community, feels frenetic and busy and at the same time slow and tiresome.

Is it the handiwork of the Mormon prophet who intervened to sabotage the series that makes him so bad, or just a sequence of unsuccessful artistic decisions?

Ben Biron Brauda


Wednesday, August 3, 2022, 10:01 a.m. Updated: 10:26 a.m.

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Trailer for the series "Under the Miracle of the Sky" (FX)

"Under the Banner of Heaven" (Under the Banner of Heaven) which recently appeared on Disney Plus deals with two topics that I think our television will never get enough of - cults and true crime.

Only in the last few months, the Netflix series "Viewing Spectators: Praying and Silent" appeared on the crimes of Warren Jeffs within an extreme current of the Mormon Church, this after last year the series "The Counterfeiter" appeared there which also dealt with real crimes related to the church.

Yes, to the hunger for content related to sects and real crimes, you can add an asterisk and mention the Mormon religion, which has more than 15 million members in the US and has been a particularly big attraction for creators in recent years.

The miniseries created by Dustin Lance Black (Oscar winner for the screenplay for the movie "Milk") is based on a true crime book that took place in 1984, when a young mother named Brenda Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones, "Normal People") and her infant daughter were brutally murdered in the state Utah in the USA. The victims were members of the Mormon Church, of which Utah is the religious center, as well as detective Jeb Fairey (Andrew Garfield) who was called to investigate the case and had to deal with the conflict between his strong faith in the church and his faith in the laws of the state. The one who is considered the immediate suspect in the murder is Brenda's husband, Alan Lafferty (Billy Howell), not only because the husband should always be suspected but also because he is redeemed in the blood of the victims, but what initially seems like a fairly simple story soon turns out to be a real headache.

"Under the Miracle of the Sky" has only seven episodes, which makes it a prime candidate for an exciting weekend binge. The problem is that all the episodes are very long and require a lot of patience, bordering on the impossible. I want to believe that we have all become sophisticated viewers who are able to sit for a long time in front of The screen when the content is really worth it, but when the length of each episode exceeds 60 minutes and the final episode is the length that fits the movie (about an hour and a half), the content should be really, really, worth it. In this case it just doesn't happen.

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Shidar Hofer

Absolutely not like the good old days of "True Detective".

Andrew Garfield and Gil Birmingham, "Under the Miracle of the Sky" (Photo: FX, Hulu)

The Lafferty family, one of whose sons is, as mentioned, the immediate suspect, quickly becomes the center of the series.

Through the investigations carried out by detectives Jeb and Bill (Gil Birmingham) in Allen, we get flashbacks to the history of this complex and troubled family that has become a household name in the Mormon community of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The pious and strict father of the family Eamon Lafferty (Christopher Heyerdahl) has set up a kind of tribe of six sons that he designates to lead the Mormon Church.

As the father dies, the sons become more extreme in their views and approach the fundamentalist currents of the religion.

Alan, who is in the hands of the police, is the youngest son and also the one who received less attention from the father, the police soon realize that they need to look for more prominent figures in the Lafferty clan - the brothers Ron (Sam Worthington) and Dan (Wyatt Russell).

Each of the brothers had different life circumstances that led him to become an officer - one was pre-marked as the father's heir and the other was the black sheep who just wanted to prove himself.

Both of them, according to Alan and a host of other witnesses who are added during the season, became more and more dangerous to themselves and the environment.

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A history of contempt for women.

Daisy Edgar-Jones, "Under the Miracle of the Sky" (Photo: FX, Hulu)

If the frame story already sounds full of details to you, it's still right on the edge of the fork.

Because "Under the Miracle of the Sky" is not satisfied with that, but throws into the complicated murder investigation, which is already integrated into the history of the Lafferty family, also the history of the Mormon religion and its founder Joseph Smith in the first half of the 19th century.

Which actually means that a scene that starts in the interrogation room and goes to a flashback in the days leading up to the murder can instantly jump to Joseph Smith and his wife Emma on their journey to recruit new believers to the church.

This constant zig-zag is tiring and exhausting and distracts me every time.

There is something almost mystical in the fact that "Under the Miracle of the Sky" feels frantic and busy and at the same time slow and tiring.

Is it the handiwork of the Mormon prophet who intervened to sabotage the series that makes him so bad, or just a sequence of unsuccessful artistic decisions?

Either way, everything in "Under the Miracle of the Sky" seems to serve the saying.

There is no point in embellishing it, this series is a hard, critical and poignant text against the Mormon Church and its members, about the violence against those who do not conform to its laws, the contempt for the status of women and its bloody history.

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One of several mesmerizing game displays.

Wyatt Russell, "Under the Miracle of the Sky" (Photo: FX, Hulu)

To a certain extent "Under the Miracle of the Sky" seems like a counterpoint to two popular and relatively recent works that dealt with Mormons, ones that, although they presented a critical approach, also showed beautiful sides of it.

The first is the mega-successful musical "The Book of Mormon", created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone ("South Park") together with Robert Lopez, and deals with a missionary journey of a young Mormon who reaches a remote African tribe.

The second is the series "Great Love" which aired for five seasons on HBO in the early 2000s (it is available here on Bis, Hot and Cellcom TV) and brought the story of a Mormon family from a sect that believes in multiple wives (polygamy), about the complex but sensitive family dynamics between the sons and daughters of the family .

In Dustin Lance Black, the humor is left out and he chooses to focus on one aspect of the Mormons: their blind faith in the writings of Joseph Smith.

This is probably also one of the prominent justifications for presenting the historical reconstructions alongside the crime story that takes place in the present of the series.

As a topic of discussion "Under the Miracle of Heaven" is a fascinating document that is relevant not only to Mormons but to anyone whose faith plays a role in their lives.

Without revealing more details about the plot of the series, you can see how the authority of the spiritual leader passes from person to person thanks to an increasingly extreme interpretation of the scriptures.

More than that - you can see how humans use an ethereal figure of an almighty god to implement their darkest needs.

Unfortunately, the topic of faith, which could have been fascinating as a series of lectures or in a 'talking heads' type documentary, doesn't really work as a drama series.

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Too didactic result.

Sam Worthington and Danish Goff, "Under the Miracle of the Sky" (Photo: FX, Hulu)

Andrew Garfield, who won praise from critics abroad for his role as Detective Fairey and received an Emmy nomination for him, tries to convey his struggle between faith in the laws of the state and the laws of God in a very quiet and understated performance. But beyond his charisma and external beauty, none of it really Moving on to the viewers. His pairing with a secular detective, a born American atheist who looks at this whole situation from the outside, also does not bring the expected emotional climax (I guess the reference they were aiming for was the good seasons of the series "True Detective") and the result is rather didactic.

But not all is bad in "Under the Miracle of the Sky" because if you have eternal patience and never-ending curiosity for true crime cases, you can see here mesmerizing performances by all members of the Lafferty family, with an emphasis on Worthington, Russell and Edgar-Jones. In addition, the cinematography and art design of the series Simply great, and it has what is commonly called "cinematic qualities".

If you survive to the end, which is definitely for the well-wishers, you will also get to see some suspenseful scenes that are not bad at all, but to get there you will need so much faith.

If there's one thing I learned from "Under the Miracle of the Sky", it's that faith really isn't enough.

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Source: walla

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