A Sentimental Journey To Lourdes: ‘The Miracle Club’ Review


Who’s up for a golden-hued heartwarmer set in 60s Ireland starring Kathy Bates and Maggie Smith about women with secret fears and dreams going on a church trip to Lourdes and finally finding the real miracle is their new compassion for each other?


A Hopeful Start

"Join Maggie Smith in a sentimental tale as Dublin women embark on a spiritual journey to Lourdes. Does 'The Miracle Club' deliver a miraculous experience?"

The answer to this question could well have been … me. I have a liking for a gentle tale and there is nothing necessarily wrong with, just occasionally, showing Ireland and the church of this period with something other than outrage and horror.

Troubled Characters

But “The Miracle Club” does not at any time, touse a discredited metaphor, throw away its crutches and walk. And it’s painful to note that this is largely because of the way the film can’t convincingly use that estimable actor Laura Linney in a central role. She is upstaged by the older, fruitier performances and doesn’t hold her own with a more serious persona.


Character Introductions

In a tough district of Dublin, four women each have reasons for going on a trip to Lourdes. Tough-as-nails Eileen Dunne (Bates) is worried about the lump she has found in her breast, but would rather go to Lourdes than see a doctor; her shiftless husband Frank (Stephen Rea) wonders grumpily who is going to cook his supper. Maggie Smith is Lily Fox, a woman with a small disability in her leg, but whose reasons for going to Lourdes are more to do with her spiritual pain at the loss of her son. Twentysomething Dolly Hennessy (Agnes O’Casey) is going to bring along her little boy who for some reason will not speak. All find that their menfolk are obstructive about wives going to Lourdes or indeed doing anything independent whatsoever.

A New Arrival

But the older women are astonished at the arrival from the US of Chrissie (Linney), the errant daughter of their deceased best friend. She left under a cloud 20 years before for reasons easily guessed at, and now wants to come along to Lourdes as well – and she’s roundly resented for it.


Mixed Experiences in Lourdes

When the women do arrive in Lourdes in the company of kindly Fr Dermot (Mark O’Halloran), there is some fun to be had in the holy-water baths they are expected to take and it is funny when Bates and Smith, gingerly stepping into the icy depths dressed in towels, squawk with genuine horror at the chill – the film’s one genuine moment, adroitly juxtaposed with memories of how some women took ice-cold baths to bring about miscarriages.

Lackluster Performance

But Linney looks solemn and inert; and the movie’s darker revelations feel mishandled, given the general note of lenient sentimentality.

A Film of Piety

“The Miracle Club” is a film that makes great demands on your piety.

Release Information

“The Miracle Club” is released on 13 October in UK and Irish cinemas.

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