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Movie Review – The Miracle Club

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Two weeks running I have got to see a new film with some old, established faces. Not specifically old as in of advanced years, more a question of having a vast and venerable body of work behind them. Last week it was Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson in The Great Escaper. This week it was Maggie Smith, and Kathy Bates in The Miracle Club. Not wishing to seem maudlin but I have a similar feeling about seeing these films as I do about going to see the legacy gigs of singers that I grew up with. There is always a lurking feeling that either they, or I, might not make it to the next one.

Obviously, I’m hoping that the scenario plays out as a long and happy retirement rather than an even longer and much less happy demise. I’ve already begun on the retirement part of my journey and I know that some of my idols, both cinematic and musical, have already effectively retired. There is also the bombshell that drops occasionally when someone I admire passes away; Michael Gambon a fortnight ago is the most recent example. Still, it is always pleasant when you get the opportunity to see an outstanding talent. Recently it has been Howard Jones, Ellie Brooks, and Gilbert O’Sullivan on stage and the aforementioned actors on the big screen.

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First Prize – Two Tickets To Lourdes

So off I pottered to see TMC. I’ll admit that this was a work event as I was there primarily to get Peetimes but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it! And enjoy it I did. Enough to take my long suffering wife out to lunch and a matinée showing next week. And what’s not to enjoy? Maggie Smith is, as always, a delight playing Lily Fox. She is joined by Kathy Bates (Eileen Dunne), Laura Linney (Chrissie Aherne), Agnes O’Casey (Dolly Hennessy) and Stephen Rea (Frank Dunne). They are neighbours in the small coastal village of Ballygar. As is the way of small villages they all know each other mainly from growing up together.

Another factor prominent in that part of the world is their commitment and belief in the Catholic church and its teachings. One of those beliefs is the total certainty that miracles happen in the town of Lourdes which is situated in the Pyrenees. As a result it is a hot spot for Christian pilgrimages. One such pilgrimage is being organised by the local priest, Father Dermot Byrne (Mark O’Halloran), and one of the prizes is tickets for the trip. All the ladies from Ballygar have their own reasons why they think that a miracle would be useful in their lives and so they all head off on a charabanc to the South of France. 

Second Prize – A Boiled Bacon Joint

Another thing that I haven’t mentioned is that The Miracle Club is set in the sixties and the whole concept of women swanning off across the continent and leaving the menfolk behind is pretty radical. This gives us the chance to enjoy seeing Stephen Rea struggling with shopping, cooking, and other domestic rituals; it may be a bit of a tired trope but it still works when it is done well. I’ve enjoyed Stephen Rea’s work since I saw him in I Didn’t Know You Cared in the mid seventies. At the other end of the spectrum is Agnes O’Casey who is appearing as Dolly Hennessy in her first feature film. 

The miracle that Dolly is seeking is to get her young son to speak. The scene with all the women in the hotel room when Dolly confesses her perceived but erroneous sin is heartwarming as well as revealing and touching as Chrissie puts her right and tells everyone about her background. The Miracle Club is a delightful film with a wonderful cast. There are no surprises, no shocks, no twists but it is still a joy to watch and I am looking forward to another viewing on Tuesday.

Movie Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: I would recommend the 1st Peetime. It’s long and has very little dialogue. I chose the 2nd Peetime because of the sensitive nature of the topic—abortion. But the scene is dramatic and so you may not want to miss it.

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There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Miracle Club.

Rated: (PG-13) Some Language | Thematic Elements
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Starring: Laura Linney, Kathy Bates, Maggie Smith
Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan
Writer(s): Joshua D. Maurer, Timothy Prager, Jimmy Smallhorne
Language: English
Country: Ireland, United Kingdom

There’s just one dream for the women of Ballygar to taste freedom: to win a pilgrimage to the sacred French town of Lourdes.


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