‘The Miracle Club’ Review: A Pleasant Pilgrimage

The camera flies over Dublin and then glides towards a promontory where a lone figure stands in front of the monument. A bubbling score confuses our emotions. Before the camera closes in on a grieving Lily Fox (Maggie Smith), it seems to tell her not to get too sad.

Set in 1967, Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s The Miracle Club touches on grief, frustration, unwanted pregnancies, and the Catholic Church in the guise of salvation frolic. Despite the impressive trio of Smith, Kathy Bates, and Laura Linney, it’s a delicate balance that the film doesn’t always maintain.

Lily’s stay is one of several pilgrimages featured in the film. The central journey takes Lily, two close friends, and her recently deceased third daughter’s estranged daughter to Lourdes, France, where millions of people seek miracles each year. Agnes O’Casey plays Dolly, the youngest of the trio and the mother of a boy (Eric D. Smith) who can’t seem to speak. But Dolly isn’t the only member of the group in need of a miracle.

With a strained mouth and a wary gaze, Linney is particularly subtle as Chrissy, a scarred but self-contained and observant intruder who returns from the United States after a 40-year rift. And in star power, O’Casey is a revelation of sorts as the playful but swinging Dolly.

Actor Stephen Rea does a great, albeit frustrating, role as Frank, Eileen’s unhelpful husband who has to look after her very funny children. Will he get an epiphany about the house and hearth? The film leaves little doubt about the answer. In fact, the men left behind and their needs and wants would be reason enough for the women to stay.

Father Dermot (Mark O’Halloran) bestows wisdom and persuades Chrissie to join the pilgrimage. He then impromptu sermons about unmet expectations, which are surprisingly appropriate for those expecting a movie that goes beyond fun. The goal of filmmakers is to Laughter too easy. The film doesn’t seem to trust its audience to endure the pain, much less to find painful humor in it, like the more authentic films. The actors here are good, but they are not miracle workers.

miracle club
It is rated PG-13 for its thematic elements and slightly salty presentation. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. at the theater.

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