When someone shows up in your life to fill a need at just the right time—perhaps a need you didn’t even realize you had—it often feels like they’re heaven sent.
Back in the 1980s, Elise was a budding superstar. She was the lead singer of a group called Sugar & Spice that was drawing plenty of attention around the country. Perhaps around the world. But then life happened, and Elise gave up the spotlight to raise her son.
Elise didn’t mind. She adored her son, and she experienced the joy of raising him to adulthood. But then he was tragically taken away from her, and she found herself raising her grandson, Derek, alone.
Although Elise believes her life with Derek is perfect, he’s grown into a young man himself, eager to step out on his own. And his grandmother’s hold on him is starting to frustrate him. But Elise isn’t ready to cut the apron strings just yet.
Enter Pastor Patrick Briggs. Patrick lost the love of his life five years ago. And he certainly doesn’t feel ready to enter the dating scene just yet. But pushy parishioners shove him into it—right into the arms of Elise.
They’re both hesitant and unsure about the relationship. But if God answers a prayer you didn’t know you were uttering, it’s just better to listen and accept the gift.
For years, Elise has demonstrated a resilient and sacrificial spirit. She gave up her life on the stage to raise her son. And after he died (while serving in Afghanistan, we learn), she took it upon herself to raise his son since Derek’s mother wasn’t ready to be a single mom. And her efforts have been rewarded: Derek is a kind and respectful young man eager to discover the purpose God has created him for.
Patrick demonstrates this same spirit. He gives up his time and resources to serve his church and community. And even when some folks overstep their bounds, Patrick exercises patience and forgives them, reminding them of God’s grace in the process.
Patrick’s sister-in-law, Nadine, can be a bit overbearing, and Patrick responds poorly to this. However, Nadine and Patrick eventually reconcile, recognizing that they both miss her sister and that making peace is the best way to honor her sister’s memory.
Characters learn the consequences of lying and eventually apologize for hurting the people they fibbed to. Derek and Elise both apologize after exchanging harsh words and disrespecting each other.
Elise and Patrick both admit that they went through a crisis of faith after losing their loved ones. Elise stopped attending church and stopped praying. She was angry at God and turned her back on Him in her anger. Patrick, on the other hand, leaned into his faith. He allowed his relationship with God to sustain him and heal him. And when this pair comes together, Elise is encouraged by Patrick’s faith. She begins to pray again and to trust her heavenly Father once more, allowing Him to heal her wounds.
People attend church services. We see people praying throughout the film. Patrick says he is a third-generation pastor. Some people use a meditation room and talk about “emotional osmosis”, but it’s never linked to anything spiritual.
In not so many words, Elise admits that she was a single mother (though it’s never clarified if she was divorced or simply unmarried). Elise’s ex (Derek’s grandfather) tells Elise he has been married and divorced three times. And it’s also explained that Derek’s parents were not married when he was born.
Patrick counsels a young couple on the brink of divorce. When the husband, Kenny, attends a speed-dating event with Patrick (solely to act as Patrick’s wingman), his wife kicks him out of the house. Several other of Kenny’s innocent actions are misconstrued as cheating as well. During this time of separation, Patrick continues to work with and encourage the couple, reminding them why they got together to begin with and making it clear that he can’t fix their problems. Only they can through God’s strength. [Spoiler Warning] They eventually do reconcile and renew their vows.
There are a few smooches between couples throughout the film. A young woman wears an off-shoulder top. Someone comments that Elise is “smoking hot.” A woman hits on Patrick at a singles’ event.
Elise explains that her son died after stepping on a landmine while serving in Afghanistan. Patrick says his wife died of ovarian cancer. A man suffers a heart attack (though he’s OK). We see a heavily bandaged patient in a hospital. We hear a man smashed an album in anger. Two teens talk about a murder mystery play.
Although there’s no serious language, the f-word appears to be cut off in one scene just before it’s said. We hear the terms “sucks” and “gosh” said in frustration. A woman states that “hell hasn’t frozen over yet.”
Some adults drink wine.
A woman mistakenly thinks that Patrick has special needs. Kenny guilts Patrick into letting him sleep on Patrick’s couch until his wife forgives him. Some people shout at each other in anger. Patrick slams a door in a woman’s face.
Elise and Patrick have each been lonely for a long time. And even though neither one was asking God to send someone, in His perfect timing, He sent them each other.
Elise needed Patrick to remind her of the most important relationship in her life: God. And Patrick, though deeply dedicated to the Lord, needed Elise to remind him that being happy and joyful wasn’t dishonoring his wife’s memory but rather glorifying God’s healing power.
Additionally, the film teaches us about patience and forgiveness. We see characters make mistakes but then apologize and learn from them. We see characters forgive those mistakes and demonstrate patience. We also witness people fighting with God for answers and understanding. And though they don’t always get exactly what they expected, these same people learn to trust God and put their faith in Him.
Heaven Sent does touch on the topic of premarital sex (considering Elise raised her son and then her grandson alone). It also has some frank talk about death. But the film focuses on God’s ability to take these things and turn them into something beautiful. And considering the film has virtually no other content concerns, that makes it a nice little romcom the entire family can enjoy.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.