Vera Farmiga has done something miraculous in her directing debut, “Higher Ground.” She’s managed to make a movie about religion that’s neither preachy nor mocking, and she treats her characters with great decency and respect.

Farmiga extends that courtesy to herself as its star, and her character, Corinne — like the movie itself — seems to be seeking answers with an open heart.

Based on the memoir “This Dark World” by Carolyn S. Briggs (who co-wrote the script with Tim Metcalfe), “Higher Ground” traces Corinne’s evolution from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, beginning with the time she was a little girl and thought she was saved at vacation bible school through her adulthood as a still-questioning wife and mother of three.

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