By Mark Fields

The Miracle Club

Lovers of indie film will probably be salivating over the prospect of having Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates and Laura Linney together in one movie. I know I was … but for naught. Although their performances in The Miracle Club are each expectedly strong (while also strangely miscast), the three stalwart actors fall victim to a story and screenplay that just doesn’t cohere, let alone move the audience. Smith and Bates play Lily and Eileen, two life-long residents of Ballyfermot, a sleepy suburb of Dublin in the 1960s. While aspiring for a parish-sponsored trip to the Shrine of Lourdes, the women become reacquainted with Chrissie, a former resident long-departed for America. The tension between them is as thick as their labored Irish accents. Of course, Chrissie manages to join them on their Lourdes trip, and old secrets come out to be dissected, challenged, and unconvincingly resolved.

Director Thaddeus O’Sullivan and the trio of screenwriters never manage to conjure up compelling personas for their three leading ladies, all of which are inconsistent, implausible, and just downright opaque. The supporting characters add some authentic local color, but it is simply bizarre to cast Maggie Smith (British) and Kathy Bates (American) as Irish women. Given the weakness of the story and the ludicrous casting decisions, the only miracle about this movie is why it got made.


Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed movies for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Over the years, Mark also has written on film for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark was an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University from 1998 to 2018. A career arts administrator, he retired in fall 2021 after 16 years as an executive at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House. Mark now leads bike tours part-time and is working on a screenplay. He lives in Trolley Square with his partner Wendy. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.