Dublin in 1967 is the setting for a charming new comedy, THE MIRACLE CLUB, directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan. Secrets abound amongst the women of Fr. Dermot Byrne’s (Mark O’Halloran) parish and the return of Chrissie (Laura Linney) brings many out into the open.


For good friends, Lily Fox (Maggie Smith) and Eileen Dunne (Kathy Bates), the death of their dear neighbor must not interfere with the church’s talent competition. The first prize is two tickets for a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France, where miracles are believed to happen.


Chrissie’s unexpected arrival after 40 years to attend her mother’s funeral threatens to upend the status quo in this close-knit community. Perhaps the trip to Lourdes will provide the revelations these women are seeking.


A sweet, funny and rather predictable screenplay by Jimmy Smallhorne, Timothy Prager and Joshua D. Maurer is enhanced by the lovely and subtle performances from Linney, Bates and Smith. Each of these wildly accomplished women have nothing left to prove, but their presence here adds heft to a script which otherwise could have gone sideways.


Especially entertaining is Eileen’s rendition of “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons, with Lily and Dolly (Agnes O’Casey) as backup. Dolly is anxious to win so she can take her little boy, Daniel, to Lourdes. He’s never spoken a word and Dolly believes Lourdes will provide a much-needed miracle for him.


Rounding out the delightful cast is Stephen Rea, Niall Buggy and Mark McKenna as the three husbands left behind. THE MIRACLE CLUB is not destined for any awards, but at only 91 minutes, it’s more than a pleasant diversion.


Opinion: Wait for VOD





THE MIRACLE CLUB features three of the most favored actresses working today, plus a really great supporting cast. The film is not the raucous comedy some might anticipate. It’s more of a confessional as the complex relationship between Chrissie (Laura Linney), Eileen Dunn (Kathy Bates), and Lily Fox (Maggie Smith) plays out after about 40 years of essentially non-existence.


The brief synopsis has Chrissie returning to her childhood home in Ireland to attend her mother’s funeral. She is quite unwelcome, but things have a way of working themselves out.


Beautifully written by Joseph D. Maurer, Timothy Prager and Jimmy Smallhorne, with direction by Thaddeus O’Sullivan --- doesn’t get any more Irish than that --- THE MIRACLE CLUB is somewhat predictable. The reality is that the animosity in the beginning of the story could not be legitimately sustained, so it had to be entertaining to see how things get resolved --- and it is.


Their eventual trip to the famous Catholic pilgrimage site in France --- of course we’re talking about Lourdes --- has some of the group hoping for real miracles. Daniel is the young redheaded son of Dolly (Agnes O’Casey) and his father (Mark McKenna). But the adorable redhead with his thick curly mop doesn’t speak --- has never uttered a word. Will Lourdes change that? Can Chrissie create a breakthrough with Daniel?


Eileen and Lily have their own reasons for traveling to Lourdes. The reality is that the film doesn’t dwell that long on the group’s actual visit. However, when their bus returns to their little hometown, the true miracles of Lourdes are revealed with superb humorous panache.


Niall Buggy plays Lily’s husband Tommy. Eileen’s husband (Stephen Rea) amuses as he does his best to cook for the Dunne clan while his wife is away. But the leader of the group, the droll Father Dermot Byrne (Mark O’Halloran), almost steals the show. He imparts to Eileen that Lourdes is not about miracles, it’s more about providing the hope to heal what needs to be fixed.


THE MIRACLE CLUB is a dialogue-driven slice-of-life story with a thankfully brief running time. In the capable hands of these three outstanding actresses, along with decent writing, it is the worthwhile project that Maurer, who also produces, waited to complete for 17 years.


Opinion: See It Now!