Review: ‘The Miracle Club’

Laura Linney, Maggie Smith, and Kathy Bates Can't Save This Religious Comedy-Melodrama

For those who are not Catholic, there are entire places that profit off of religious sitings. In 1858, St. Bernadette saw the Virgin Man eighteen times in Lourdes, France, which not only earned her Sainthood but the town gained its own reputation for granting miracles. 

In the new film The Miracle Club, four Irish Catholic women travel to that French town in search of their own religious marvels. My short description is clearer than anything presented in Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s sappy melodrama. Starring Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, Laura Linney, and Agnes O’Casey, the film muddles the complex histories these women have with one another in favor of overdrawn dramatics and a sense of sentimentality.

The film opens in 1967 with the death of Chrissie’s mother (Linney), a staple in the Irish community where she lived. Chrissie is returning home from Boston after 40 years to essentially bury her mother and run, but is stopped by the Church talent show thrown in order to give away tickets to Lourdes. 

Inside, she has a chilly reunion with her mother’s best friend Lily (Smith) and her own former ride-or-die Eileen (Bates). Both parties are extremely cold with one another without an explanation, a recurring habit writers Jimmy Smallhorne, Timothy Prager, and Joshua D. Maurer employ. Watching this interaction in awe is Dolly, a young mother of a mute child hoping to win the trip so she can cure her son and get him to talk. Dolly, Eileen, and Lily enter into the talent show as a doo-wop group that wins them second place, though they are given the first prize earnings from the winner. 

The over-complicated set-up between these women is The Miracle Club’s downfall. O’Sullivan and the writers withhold too much information causing the tension and drama to appear unnecessary. Kathy Bates and Laura Linney’s characters are supposed to be the same age, but due to costuming and casting choices, their connection is completely muddled. The latter does what she can with the script, giving a moving monologue about an abortion she had when she was younger. She is washed out by the story’s sentimentality otherwise. 

As the women make their way through the attractions of the town, their histories are uncovered, and their own motives for needing healing come to light. A supposed comedy, the melodrama overtakes any funny moments, though Dolly’s character has a baby daughter that is a genuine star. Despite donning three acting legends, The Miracle Club severely misuses them, needing a miracle of its own to clean up the script.

The Miracle Club is now playing in theaters.

'The Miracle Club'
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
review-the-miracle-club'The Miracle Club' relies on Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, and Laura Linney to pull its script from the ashes.