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Produced by Devon Franklin and directed by Roxann Dawson.

Film Description

When Joyce Smith’s son, John, falls through an icy lake, all hope seems lost. But as John’s lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up, and her steadfast belief inspires those around her to pray for his recovery. Based on the incredible true story of one mother’s unwavering devotion, Breakthrough, is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle.

Review Questions

As this film is a testimony, I have structured the review questions a little differently.

Did I reflect on the 10 commandments during the film?

Promotes God as the only God

  • Several scenes with worship service

  • Shows a woman praying To God as the fire engine drives past her house with its lights on

  • Joyce prays over her son, for the Lord to bring him back to Life. Reminds me of John 14:16 - And will I pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.”

  • Joyce tells the neurologist to do his best and let God do the rest

  • John’s class pray for him, including his adversary.

  • John’s mother had an unwavering belief that God could heal her son. Everyone else thought she was just in denial.

  • The firefighter’s reflection on how John was saved. He was not a believer and yet he could not come to any other conclusion on how John was saved - there must be a God.

  • The Pastor’s advice to Joyce: she must let God take control.

  • The neurologist’s statement to Joyce that John was a miracle

  • Joyce’s statement when they were witnessing during the worship service, after John’s full recovery: God’s love is the only thing that makes all things possible. Reminds me of Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Promotes being free from idols or refrain from promoting idols

  • Joyce was putting her pride before the Lord - thinking she could control her life. Anything we put before the Lord is an idol. Joyce repented for this and fully submitted to the Lord.

Does not use His name in vain

  • John goes to a Christian high school, yet he takes the Lord’s name in vain when his mother delays driving off, after dropping him off from school. But this is not used as entertainment, I see it as a reflection of where John was spiritually, even though he was attending a Christian school.

Promote the Sabbath or refrain from promoting Sunday as the day of worship?

  • There was a worship service shown on a Sunday, but Sunday was not promoted as the correct worship day.

Honours parents or refrains from promoting dishonour of parents?

  • John called his father by his name instead of dad and did not hug his mother goodbye before leaving for a sleepover at his friend’s house. Joyce was upset, as she considered it disrespectful. Bryan, her husband, wanted to show John grace, during this new rebellious phase of John’s life.

Speak against lies or refrain from promoting lies?

  • The Pastor speaks against lying in a worship service

  • John lies to his mother, coach and teacher - and this is depicted in the correct light

Speak against jealousy or refrain from promoting jealousy?

  • John showed some feelings of jealousy towards his classmates because he was the only one in the class that was adopted. We are shown how jealousy was a destructive force in his life. It made him angry, overly competitive, disrespectful and distant to loved ones, friends and potential friends.

What Christian standards does the film convey?

Scripture alone

  • During a worship service, the Pastor opens his Bible to start preaching from the Gospel of Luke and asks the congregation to follow in their bibles.

  • There is a scene showing Joyce reading scripture while waiting for a phone call from John.

  • The Pastor tells his children about a pastor being considered a shepherd and the congregation being his sheep.

Salvation through Christ alone (does not promote good works)

  • The Pastor’s gives an analogy based on a popular TV series and God’s gift to us. People may have different takes on how the analogy was done - it didn’t do anything for me, as I don’t watch the series, but the analogy pointed people to Christ.

State of the Dead

  • There was no mention of John going to heaven or his mother’s expectations that he did, as he was laying before her lifeless. There was also no mention from John of having been in heaven when he came back to life. So John’s death was dealt with in a way that was in tune with scripture.

Biblical marriage

  • Joyce and her husband were on different pages when it came to faith. They were both believers, but approached the tragedy differently as Joyce relied solely on her faith and her husband relied on human reasoning and world science. However, the Lord brought them together and they put their trust in the Lord together.

Husband as the head in his home and the local church

  • At the beginning, Joyce’s husband was not the spiritual leader of his house. There is a scene where they are about to eat breakfast and Bryan does not bless the food. Joyce reminds him and the family join hands in prayer. Bryan tells Joyce that he couldn’t see John in his current state and couldn't go into John’s hospital room, but would be down the hall, if his wife needed anything. He had no plans to leave the hospital, he just couldn’t be in his room. Bryan’s faith wavered and he expected John to die - like everyone else around him, except John’s mother, Joyce.

  • Bryan later repents to his wife for not being by her side and John's bedside from the start. We see Bryan’s journey in faith throughout the film.

  • There is a scene where Bryan, Joyce and their Pastor join hands, beside John’s hospital bedside and pray for God’s will to be done

Recognition of the value of life and blessing in children

  • Joyce’s statement to her son when he was doing his homework that he had a purpose and he was loved.

  • Joyce’s statement to her son at his hospital bedside that he was her pride and joy

  • Joyce’s confession of regret concerning a decision she had made earlier on in her life concerning the adoption of her child.

Recognition of the body as the temple of God

  • Joyce realized that she was running her body into the ground, in order to try and be there for John 100%. She found relief in letting go and trusting the Lord, no matter what the outcome.

Examples of glory and honour and thanks to God

  • Joyce reminded her family to bless the food at breakfast

  • The Pastor gives glory to God for sacrificing his most dear possession, His Son.

  • Joyce told the world renowned neurologist to do his best and let God do the rest - after the doctor gave them little hope of John recovering

  • The first doctor on the scene’s reflection to his daughter on how John came back to life. His wife said it was a miracle and he confirmed that he had no explanation for how John came back to life. He was speechless.

  • The doctor’s note to his class on the day’s events and how, no matter what happens, he wanted them to remember the unexplainable series of events that brought John back to life - he wrote, what some might call a miracle.

  • The reporter included in her live news report that John had no pulse for an hour. His mother prayed, then he got a pulse.

  • Joyce’s repentance of a moment of weakness when she gives herself honour for saving John’s life. She prayed to the Lord for forgiveness for her pride

  • John thanks the Lord for bringing him back to life

Did the film encourage my faith? Yes, it’s a powerful film - mainly because it is based on a true story. It’s a testimony how blessed we are when we have a growing relationship with the Lord. When we truly believe He is all His Word says He is: our rock, tower of strength, Creator, Father, Comforter, Healer, Redeemer, Saviour and more.

What actions did I do, as a result of seeing the film?

I married with children, so it caused reflection on my trust in the Lord and the welfare of my family. I was also reminded of verses from the Bible that spoke to different scenes in the film.

Were there any scenes that caught my attention, in regards to doctrine?

As mentioned, Breakthrough is based on a true story - but I don’t know which additions, if any, were put in that were not part of the true story. So I have phrased the usual last question differently. Here are a few points:

  • A note about scripture songs versus regular songs used for worship. Sometimes it is difficult to hear the difference between worldly music and some modern worship music. I have listened to both, but in the last few months, I have found myself listening primarily to worship songs that are taken directly from scripture verses. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you, richly with all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart, to the Lord. The verse starts off with, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you. Where do we get the word of Christ from? The Bible.

So, now I actively lean towards spiritual songs taken directly from scripture as we are then singing God’s Word right back to Him. There is more power in those scripture songs than there could ever be in songs with lyrics made up by man. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. So when it comes to worship songs - scripture is the best way to go. Jesus used it in the wilderness and Ephesians calls it the sword of the Spirit.

  • Clapping after a “performance” for me makes it sound more like a worldly concert than worship. I even heard a whistle amongst the congregation. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:31 - Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” When I reflect on this verse - saying Amen after someone sings, plays an instrument, reads, etc. seems more appropriate, as it is directed to the Lord - so He is honoured - not man.

  • The Pastor’s comment about it being a sin to lie, but even more so in church service, is not biblical. A lie is a lie wherever you are - according to scripture. The commandment does not say, “Thou shall not bear false witness especially during worship service.” I know the Pastor probably meant it as kind of a joke - but we are talking about a holy law, so those kinds of jokes make me feel very uneasy. I have heard a couple of pastors tie in the commandments with jokes - Jesus didn’t do this, and he is our role model. In fact, I don’t ever remember reading in scripture about Jesus making jokes. He was described as, “a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief.“ Maybe he did and it just wasn’t included in the accounts. Or maybe he didn’t.

  • The Pastor’s analogy of The Bachelor series - I get the context of being able to relate to different people. I just think for me, there is a balance between being able to relate to people and not immersing yourself in the world, in order to do it - as scripture says, we are in the world, but not part of the world (John 15:19, 17:16, Romans 12:2). It’s a balance that has to be found under prayer. While most of the congregation were dancing and singing to the worldly sounding music, moments before, there was complete silence when the Pastor gave his analogy that ended up pointing to submitting to Jesus for a lifetime.


In Summary, Breakthrough is a powerful testimony. I have actually only seen it a couple of times, because I find it so intense and while I don’t watch any Christian film for pure entertainment, there is a big difference between watching a film that you know has a fictional script and watching a film directly based on someone’s testimony. It was a blessing to see it again, and be reminded how blessed we are to have God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Comforter - the Holy Spirit. It’s a reminder of the divine power and majesty of God the Father, that leaves us speechless and humbled in the small context we experience it. It’s a reminder that no matter how much we think we know, we have so much to learn - which makes me look forward to Jesus’ return and the new Jerusalem.

Thank you for reading this review, until next time - peace be with you.

Resource Information

Film Source: iTunes

Source for film thumbnail

NB! The links I reference for my films is the source I used, but it is not an endorsement of the entire film streaming company. I am sure this particular film can be found on various digital streaming companies.


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There is Christian media out there that honours the Word of God - you just have to make a determined effort to pick and choose. RFM reviews are based on the films that have focus on the Bible and the Christian values we are supposed to live by, by God's grace.

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Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20


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