As it turns out, the producers should have retained the name of the book, His Sunrise My Sunset. Sunrise in Heaven is the alpha and the omega. Heavily faith-based, it tells the true story of the beginning of a 46 year love affair, and the ending after a tragic accident. Without the middle, sad to say, there is just not enough material to carry this “romance” drama. Sunrise In Heaven is badly miscast, and with very low production values. All that is left is the faith. While that may be sufficient for some, most will likely be left wanting. The courtship is set in 1964, but the feel is more 1940’s. I give the film 2.5 Gavels and it receives a 6.6/10 IMDb rating.
Jan is a high school teen working on a cafeteria line at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Her Chief Master Sergeant father drums into her that she must never date a GI. Steve is different, but she will never be able to convince her father of that. Switching back and forth in time, Steve is badly injured in a car accident, on a respirator. As he has devoted his life to God, Jan is certain that prayer will bring a miracle. Steve fails to improve, and Jan’s faith is tested as she discusses “options” with an end-of-life physician. In both scenarios, fighting for someone may mean letting them go.
In her first major acting role, Caylee Cowan‘s range as Jan goes from mopey to sad sack. Put this one in the category that “you gotta’ start somewhere.” Travis Burns owns that winning smile as Steve, but he, too, offers little more. Corbin Bernson (LA Law, Major League) and Dee Wallace (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) are Jan’s parents. Corbin is just way over-the-top and Wallace has little to do.
With such lines as “Secretaries don’t need math” and “You’d tell me if your dad murdered one of your ex-boyfriends, wouldn’t you,” it is quite obvious that you are in a different era. The final days and hours of Steve’s passing are heart-wrenching and appear more realistic than most Hollywood endings. Ultimately, Sunrise In Heaven yields no new insights in the medicine vs. faith discussion. Pastor Roberts ministered to this couple throughout their life together. Perhaps he could shed some more light on this story. As it is, other than the joy of love and the pain of death, we miss the struggle of life. The director and writers could take a lesson from Greater.