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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Miracle Club - Kathy Bates, Maggie Smith, Laura Linney

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD



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Following the recent string of movies targeted toward more mature female audiences such The Book Club sequel and 80 For Brady, comes the release of The Miracle Club which also centers around four woman that embark on a life changing journey. But that is where the similarity ends. Not a comedy, although there are some amusing moments, the Miracle Club is a period piece drama filled with emotional depth. In other words, there is lots more to The Miracle Club than it being just another run of the mill female buddy movie.

Driven by a stellar, all star cast that unites Academy Award winners Maggie Smith and Kathy Bates with Laura Linney and an excellent supporting cast including newcomer Agnes O’Casey and Stephen Rhea (delivering some humor as Bate's loving, but inept, husband), that make it all work, the story takes place in 1967 in Ballygar, a small working class Irish Catholic community outside of Dublin.

Under the direction of Irish filmmaker Thaddeus O’Sullivan from a script by Jimmy Smallhorne, Joshua Maurer and Timothy Prager, The Miracle Club unfolds with the return of Chrissie (Linney delivering, a beautiful, restrained and sensitive performance) to her hometown for her estranged mother's funeral after being banished by her mom at age 17 for reasons that will eventually come to light. It's been forty years since she moved to Boston and Chrissie's arrival back home brings her face to face with three of her former close friends that have been harboring a deep seeded grudge and resentment towards her all these years.

What each of these woman have in common are the hope of a medical cure or healing of some kind. So when a fundraiser talent competition led by the local church's Father Dermot Byrne (Mark O’Halloran) offers up a first prize ticket to Lourdes in France where some miracles, supposedly, have occurred, Eileen (a feisty, tart tongued, no holes barred Bates), Lilly (the always wonderful Smith) and Dolly (O’Casey, convincing as an anguish filled young mother) jump at the chance to enter and win with their corny, yet lively, fun filled rendition of “He's So Fine”.

Disappointed that they came in second, the trio are more than surprised when the young winner offers them his tickets. With the hope of fulfilling their wishes for divine intervention, they are eager to head off to Lourdes, to the discontent of their husbands, who think they rule the roost, but are about to learn a thing or two. The headstrong women are on a mission and no one can stop them. Middle aged Eileen is worried about a suspicious lump on her breast. The eldest, Lily, is guilt ridden over her beloved grown son Declan's tragic drowning decades earlier, and twenty something Dolly has a 6 year old mute son Daniel (Eric Smith) that she hopes and prays will finally speak.

Despite some misgivings, a skeptical Chrissie, who was left a note from her mother with a ticket to Lourdes, decides to join the women on the pilgrimage that will bring about a “healing” in ways none of them expected.

While the unraveling plot is predictable, The Miracle Club is nevertheless engaging with moving, heartfelt performances within a scenario that has loss, estrangement, guilt, secrets revealed, reconciliation, redemption and forgiveness all playing out.

Although melancholy and often tearful, The Miracle Club, leaves the audience with uplifting messages about the curative power of love and friendship as well as acceptance, faith and the strength to go on when there is no miracle. There is a lot to be said for its relevance, especially during these trying times.





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