The Miracle Club
My Rating 10/10
I love Irish Cinema and this movie is a pot of gold and a masterclass in female ensemble performance from Maggie Smith , Laura Linney and Kathy Bates .
All three women have had spectacular movie and television careers with 3 Academy Awards and ten Oscar nominations between them.
This story is a sentimental journey set around Dublin and crossing to Lourdes the French village for pilgrims searching for miracles in the mid 1960's and it tugs at your heartstrings even if you're not religious like me.
It's a very different Ireland of today beginning in the village of Ballygar where the Catholic Church influences most of the social behaviour including a talent quest in honour of the recently deceased Maureen mother of Chrissie Ahearn .The winner wins a coveted prize of an excursion to Lourdes the village of miracles in France so three of Maureen's friends enter the talent show calling themselves The Miracles.
Expat Chrissie Ahearn returns home from Boston where she has lived for the last 40years after leaving Ballgar under a cloud to attend her mother Maureen's funeral.
Chrissie is played with charm and sensitivity by the wonderful Laura Linney who carries much more emotional baggage than is visible at first by her one suitcase.
She is certainly not welcomed home with open arms at first quite the opposite as her late mother's best friends judge her absence as a betrayal to her mother and friends .
Her late mothers friends include the elderly but worldly wise Lily Fox who has purchased the floral tributes for the funeral.
Lily Fox is played with skill and sensitivity by the wonderful Maggie Smith in a role I think that will be included in her finest movies.
Lily Fox is such a departure from her role in Downton Abbey as Violet Crawley Dowager Countess .
In The Miracle Club she plays an elderly woman who has suffered great loss that resurfaces when Chrissie returns to Ballygar .
No spoilers as this story needs to be experienced on a personal level but when Lily Fox , Eileen Dunn , (Kathy Bates ) Chrissie's once close but now spiteful tongued cousin and their young protege Dolly Hennessy played by ( Agnes O'Casey)win a trip to Lourdes in France each is seeking a miracle but not necessarily the one they expected . The Parish Priest Father Dermot Byrne (Mark O'Halloran ) who is leading the pilgrimage gently convinces Chrissie to join the tour much to the chagrin of Lily, and cousin Eileen .
They all leave their husbands behind to fend for themselves including young Dolly Hennessy accompanied by her young silent son Eric played by Eric D. Smith and on their return it seems like a miracle of reconciliation has truly occurred .
Some may ask why I give this movie a perfect ten like I gave Oppenheimer it's a simple answer that has nothing to do with Big budgets or Box Office bonanzas .
Perfection in my view can be in a small budget independent film with an estimated production budget of only EUR 8,900,000 because the script and the performances are perfection not only from the starring roles but from the whole ensemble cast. There are superb supporting character roles like Mark McKenna as Dolly's husband George Hennessy , Stephen Rea who is wonderful as Frank Dunne Eileen's husband who realises during her absence that he has taken his wife for granted .
Kathy Bates as Eileen Dunne is also truly amazing in her role she's so authentic as a feisty Irish housewife no one would believe she was born in Memphis Tennessee that's what I mean about a masterclass performance that delivers wit and emotional intensity when required .
Director Thaddeus O'Sullivan must have enjoyed his dream cast it shows in every frame of this fine movie .
The three scriptwriters Joshua D. Maurer, Timothy Prager and Jimmy Smallhorne have crafted a fine story with humour and pathos that unfolds gradually managing to avoid being over sentimental but I recommend that a few tissues may be required .
Famous Irish Academy Award winner Veteran actress Brenda Fricker has a vocal cameo providing the voice when daughter Chrissie reads a touching letter left for her from her departed mother Maureen.
The Miracle Club
Action / Comedy / Drama
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1 hr 30 min