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the miracle club

starring: laura linney, kathy bates, maggie smith, and stephen rea

REVIEWER: lyall carter

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

When the opportunity arises for the women to win a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, Lily (Maggie Smith), Eileen (Kathy Bates), and Dolly (Agnes O'Casey) jump at the chance. With their priest’s help, the women win the trip and embark on a journey that will change their lives. Once in Lourdes, the women are tasked with helping the sick and disabled pilgrims who come to bathe in the town's healing springs. As they work, they reflect on their lives and search for personal miracles. However, when they are joined by Chrissie (Laura Linney), who has returned from the U.S. after a long absence, old wounds are reopened, and the women must confront their pasts.

The Miracle Club narratively follows the well trodden path of many a film of this ilk: a soft, breezy film with a great cast with a bit of real life thrown in for good measure. What makes The Miracle Club truly stand out is that this is a film where the main characters are all women of a certain age. They aren’t merely played for laughs however, as each have a well crafted character arc to match the quality of the performer embodying them. 

And while the title suggests a pious film, The Miracle Club has more to offer than religious musings, balanced and intriguing as they are. The film delves deep into the lives of the women portrayed exposing regrets, fear, and bitterness along the way. This is where the miraculous begins to happen. 

With a cast that includes Linney, Bates, and Smith you’d well expect an acting masterclass and you’d be more than right. There are performances here that are more than worth the price of admission. Bates is all fire and brimstone, which covers a fear that hangs over her. Linney is reserved and stoic, with the smallest crack of real life breaking through at times. And Maggie Smith is just sublime - with one simple, but masterfully delivered line she can and does completely arrest you. 

A perfect film for the bleak, unrelenting winter weather with an all star cast and a tale to match, The Miracle Club will wrap you up in a big old hug as it warms the cockles of your heart.

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