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.