The Miracle Club
Nov 16, 2023
Jimmy Smallhorne, Timothy Prager, Joshua D. Maurer
Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, Laura LInney, Stephen Rea
NEW TO UK FILM REVIEW
Critics Chris Olson and Brian Penn host UK Film Club - a new film podcast covering all film types. From blockbusters to old favourites and even indie & shorts.
Faith is the most powerful of emotions; to simply believe because it is written. The idea that no further validation is needed displays a remarkable level of acceptance. When faith dictates how we live our lives it borders on the obsessional, but who is anyone to judge someone’s beliefs if it works for them. The Miracle Club is set in 1960s Dublin, capital of the quintessential Roman Catholic state.
Locals are increasingly agitated by a talent competition offering places on a trip to Lourdes in France. The town that grew into a place of pilgrimage when St. Bernadette saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. Thereafter the disabled walked away apparently cured of their ills. Now everyone’s looking for a miracle as Lil (Maggie Smith) and Eileen (Kathy Bates) join an unlikely girl group in the competition. They both win tickets to Lourdes and excitedly make plans for their pilgrimage. But a face from the past de-rails their preparations. Chrissie (Laura Linney) was best friends with Eileen but suddenly left town following a tragic incident and a sea of gossip. Lil is the mother of Chrissie’s first love and also has many axes to grind. Can a trip to Lourdes heal a rift that has festered for forty years?
Whilst there are ripe caricatures of the Irish and accents that hover between Dublin and Belfast via Birmingham, this remains a bright and likeable piece. Laura Linney plays a character that has lived in America for the last 40 years, so there is no pressure to perfect an authentic Irish accent. Maggie Smith and Kathy Bates meanwhile give the accent a fair run for its money like the true thespians they are. But the accents remain an ongoing weakness throughout the film and it can never be ignored. Stephen Rea lends strong support as Eileen’s husband Frank but is quickly relegated to a ‘him indoors’ role when the girls leave for Lourdes.
For all its obvious defects, the Miracle Club keeps away from ‘two star territory’ thanks primarily to an outstanding cast. The story carries a much stronger message than its whimsical image might initially suggest. It deals with faith and superstition in the most practical way that’s refreshing to see on the big screen.