THE MIRACLE CLUB(Review) An Underwhelming Tale of Friendship

Assembling a great cast is a surefire draw in a film for me and Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s The Miracle Club certainly showcases one with a trio of accomplished actors in Laura Linney, Kathy Bates, and Maggie Smith. So, I instinctively went into this movie with heightened expectations and while I will say all three deliver strong performances, in addition to Anges O’Casey who fits in perfectly, this movie ultimately was a letdown.

Set in 1960’s Ballyfermot, Ireland this story follows a group of women who each for their own reasons are determined to win a pilgrimage to the sacred town of Lourdes in France. With each having hopes for their own life changing miracles, while also peeling back the layers of their past, their troubles, and their friendships. It’s a premise with potential for strong waves of emotional drama, layered characters, plenty of plot intrigue, and light humor to cut all the swirling sentiment. However, the writing is never really able to scratch much below the surface. Instead opting for more of a (take it at face value) approach.

Now it does have a tight runtime working in its favor. The production design and settings are also appealing. So, when you add these positives with the performances the result is certainly a watchable film. One that does maintain a modest level of interest for a tight 90 minutes. Linney, Bates, Smith, and O’Casey all give effective performances and from first glances, it is their heightening of the material that could give the impression this is a good, to very good drama. Yet when you actually attempt to invest in the narrative, and get to know these characters, the issues begin to take the film over.

There’s an implied lengthy history between many of these characters and many emotional feelings towards one another that have had a lasting impact. Each of these women are also experiencing varying tribulations that are fueling their desire to visit Lourdes. The problem is much of this substance is simply explained in conversation throughout with many of the more emotionally intense layers being simply talked about instead of shown. While the performances were very capable, the lack of depth and the course this story takes to tell itself hinders the performances from being able to hit the dramatic beats needed to land the true dramatic punch The Miracle Club needs to be truly compelling.

The pulse of this film ends up feeling a bit flat. The doses of humor also feel more lazy than clever which results in much of the levity feeling stale as well. This all ends up keeping The Miracle Club at arm’s length and missing the valuable story substance needed to completely fill out these characters and their journeys. You can connect to them through the nuances of their personalities. However, with a few too many unanswered questions about the dynamics of these ladies, The Miracle Club feels a bit too incomplete and ultimately undercuts the talents of the cast.

Grade: C+

Cast: Laura Linney, Kathy Bates, Maggie Smith, Agnes O’Casey, Mark O’Halloran, Mark McKenna, Stephen Rea  Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan  Writers: Joshua D. Maurer, Timothy Prager, Jimmy Smallhorne  Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics  Running Time: 91 minutes  Rating: PG-13 (For thematic elements, some language)  Language: English  Year: 2023  Genre: Comedy/Drama

Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.

The Miracle Club (2023) Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved. 
The Miracle Club (2023) Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.