The Cokeville Miracle online movie review - Depends on Your Theology
The Cokeville Miracle is the true story of the May 16, 1986 incident in Cokeville, WY, where a lunatic and his wife entered the local elementary school with a bomb and an objective to blow up its students into a better hereafter.
Those who know the incident know that the bomb accidentally went off but miraculously only the bomber and his wife (the perpetrators) were killed--all the kids and teachers made it out alive. The movie entertains the notion that the event was a real miracle ordained by God, and much of the drama centers around the local sheriff's attempt to make sense of the incident.
The Cokeville Miracle is a completely Christian movie, and actually of a rather conservative variety. This means that whether you like this movie will substantially depend on your own personal beliefs. It is unquestionably a powerful movie in this context--the hostage drama is actually only part of a plot that centers around a crisis of faith in the Sheriff and the pain that this is causing his family. The story of a crisis of faith is a very old one, but is done well here, and for a Christian is of course the most important story that one can tell. Christians will find an incredible parable on the power of divine intervention and its potential to save souls- -it is right up the Christian's alley.
If you are an atheist, however, you will probably find yourself in completely unfamiliar territory. You may find yourself rooting for the Sheriff to not give in to easy explanation of "miraculous intervention" that the story proposes. Furthermore, the Sheriff's struggle to find his personal faith may leave you feeling very unmoved, to say the least. The movie has the potential to draw many eye rolls, especially considering Jasen Wade's very earnest performance as the Sheriff.
If there is a middle-ground, it perhaps lies in one's willingness to accept this drama for what it is--a drama about people in a small town and how they might react to this type of situation. In this sense, the movie is superb. I am not originally from a small rural town, but I did live in one for six years. As I watched the drama, I realized that so much of it was real--these people could have been my friends. The hostage drama was believable, if appalling. The tendency to explain the event as an intervention of God's hand was true-to-life, an essential aspect to how these folks would actually react. The story of the sheriff's crisis of faith, at least for the people that I knew (and cared for) struck me as spot-on and heart- rending in its context. There is much here that might offend or at least bore the outsider; to an insider, it is a really powerful movie.