THE MIRACLE CLUB -- A Film with Four Very Good Performances, but It May Not Be Everyone's Cup of Tea
Review by Dan Skip Allen
I've watched many films that have not been something I could relate to in my day, but I have still enjoyed them for various other qualities they may have had. The Miracle Club has a subplot I can relate to that I didn't expect, and an overall quality that I liked. Along with an excellent cast of seasoned performers, the story was rather interesting, especially for the older crowd who should check out this film.
This story takes place in Ballygar, a section of Dublin, Ireland in 1967. It focuses on a handful of women. Three generations have lived in this community all their lives, except one. The fourth returned because of the passing of her mother. Her return causes unresolved issues between her and the other women to rise to the surface involving a secret that they all share.
The cast is pretty stacked with Emmy and Oscar winners. Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Laura Linney (Ozark), Kathy Bates (Misery), and Agnes O'Casey — a revelation — are the four women. They have very good chemistry with each other while they go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, a mecca for religious people looking for some sort of salvation — whether in physical healing or an answer to unresolved trauma from the past.
Each of the women's stories has different repercussions in their lives, whether it's back home while they're gone, between each other, and from the past. All the stories have an equal effect while watching the movie. The writing fleshed these stories out in a good way. Directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan, the film is based on the life of the writer Jimmy Smallhorne. He had a difficult history with the women in his life.
The subplot I alluded to was that of a child in the film. He reminded me of my life growing up. I had a learning disability and still do to some extent. I also wore a hockey helmet because of a head injury I sustained as a baby in my mother's womb. I was very quiet for that period in my life. My twin brother spoke for me often. I was surprised when I saw this little boy and what he and his mother were going through. It hit home for me.
There is another aspect of this movie that I have had an up-and-down relationship with: religion — especially Catholicism. I grew up as a Catholic in Massachusetts, but my religious beliefs have waned over the years. The whole savior factor of Jesus has been something I've believed in my whole life, but religion as a whole has been a big problem for me. This movie deals with religion interestingly and satisfactorily.
The Miracle Club has many funny moments that go along with some difficult questions it asks the viewer to deal with. My relatability to the subject matter made me enjoy it more than others might. The religious stuff might turn some people off. The cast was fine, and O'Casey as the little boy's mother was a new find as far as an actress for me. She is amazing in her role as a mother looking for answers in religion. This film isn't going to be for everyone, but it was for me.
The Miracle Club hits theaters on July 14.