The Miracle Club movie review (2023) | Roger Ebert (2024)


The Miracle Club movie review (2023) | Roger Ebert (1)

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There's something a little old-fashioned about "TheMiracleClub." Set in 1967 Ireland, "TheMiracleClub" stars three powerhouse Oscar-winning and/or nominated actresses (none of whom are Irish) and features period clothing and cars, sweeping cinematography, location-shooting, and a heartwarming message, where each character gets a satisfying arc. Cliches work for a reason. Emmy-nominated director Thaddeus O’Sullivan is alert to details and nuance, which is very important with a script (by Jimmy Smallhorne, Timothy Prager, and Joshua D. Maurer, based on a story by Smallhorne) where the revelations can be seen coming from three fields away. "TheMiracleClub" has been kicking around as a potential project for years, and now, with Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, and Laura Linney starring, it's finally come to pass.


Lily (Smith) and Eileen (Bates) are lifelong friends living in a working-class suburb of Dublin, made up really of just a couple of blocks. It is a close community where everyone knows everyone else, gossip reigns, and grudges go on for generations. Lily, Eileen, and their much younger friend Dolly (Agnes O’Casey) sign up for a talent contest at the local parish. The prize? Tickets to Lourdes, the pilgrimage site in France, a place the women, all faithful and devout (grudges notwithstanding), have all been longing to visit. Each woman needs amiracle. Eileen found a lump in her breast and told nobody. She hasn't gone to a doctor either. Her husband (Stephen Rea) and a gaggle of children keep her busy, and Eileen is resigned to leaving them. Lily can't get over the death of her son Declan, who drowned many years before. Dolly's young son (Eric Smith) cannot (or won't?) speak, and Dolly hopes for a cure.

The rhythm of this small neighborhood is established immediately, and the tone is warm, inviting, and comfortable. John Conroy’s cinematography starts with stunning sweeps of Irish green and the blue sea, the gorgeous cliffs and rocks, Ireland incarnate. But he shows equal care with the small block of houses and their colored doors, the intimacy of the setting. John Hand's production design is also a major contribution: the homes feel lived in, realistic, and not presented condescendingly. It's homey and real.

Naturally, Lily and Eileen have secrets, all of which come roaring to the surface when Chrissie (Linney) returns to town, just in time to catch the talent show. She's been gone from the town for decades, and clearly, there's a lot of bad water under the bridge. Eileen can barely look at her; Lily turns her nose at her. Dolly has no idea what's going on and warms to Chrissie immediately. Before you know it, through twists, turns, and coincidences, the quartet is off to Lourdes, praying for personal, physical, and spiritual miracles.


It's easy to predict how this will go, but with actresses like Bates (whose accent is a bit spotty) and Smith (whose accent is very good), there's always a lot to dig into and appreciate. Linney's character is the opposite of expressive and remains so for much of the film, but there are cracks in the armor as the women's time in Lourdes continues. Smith, in particular, gives a heart-breaking performance, guilt, and shame basically pouring out of her eyes, even as she struggles to cover it up with an imperious manner. She plays both simultaneously. It's tempting to say Smith is "unsurprisingly" great, but this should be resisted. Maggie Smith is always surprising; we should not take her for granted!

There are moving moments (O'Casey is very touching), but once the "miracles" start coming, the film tilts into very shallow waters. It's best at its most casual: the interplay of emotions and resentments, the silliness of holding grudges, the pain beneath the surface of these women. We are also treated to supposedly humorous scenes of the menfolk back home falling apart without their women: they have to shop for groceries now, they have to change diapers, oh, how clumsy they are! Considering that this is a period film, which takes place in a world untouched (so far) by the upheavals of the 1960s, these scenes are still pretty rote.

It's worth it, though, to wait for Smith's performance of the line: "God punished me for taking him away like that." The line comes from her guts, her soul, and the shallow waters immediately yield to deep.

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Film Credits

The Miracle Club movie review (2023) | Roger Ebert (9)

The Miracle Club (2023)

Rated PG-13for thematic elements and some language.

91 minutes


Laura Linneyas Chrissie

Kathy Batesas Eileen Dunne

Maggie Smithas Lily Fox

Agnes O'Caseyas Dolly

Shauna Higginsas Ruth

Niall Buggyas Tommy Fox


  • Thaddeus O'Sullivan


  • Joshua Maurer
  • Timothy Prager
  • Jimmy Smallhorne


  • John Conroy


  • Alex Mackie


  • Edmund Butt

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The Miracle Club movie review (2023) | Roger Ebert (2024)


The Miracle Club movie review (2023) | Roger Ebert? ›

There are moving moments (O'Casey is very touching), but once the "miracles" start coming, the film tilts into very shallow waters. It's best at its most casual: the interplay of emotions and resentments, the silliness of holding grudges, the pain beneath the surface of these women.

Is The Miracle Club worth seeing? ›

The Miracle Club Reviews

The Miracle Club is far from miraculous, but Linney, Smith and Bates share just enough chemistry to justify a watch, especially for admirers of their work. ...the kind of film that critics generally ignore, ridicule or damn with faint praise…

What movies did Roger Ebert give 4 stars? ›

Roger Ebert's Four-Star Films
  • 500 Days of Summer (2009) PG-13 | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance. ...
  • 10 (1979) R | 122 min | Comedy, Romance. ...
  • 12 Angry Men (1957) Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama. ...
  • 127 Hours (2010) ...
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ...
  • 24 Hour Party People (2002) ...
  • 25th Hour (2002) ...
  • 28 Up (1984 TV Movie)

What happened to Chrissy's baby in The Miracle Club? ›

Chrissie describes how she was forced to have a miscarriage and how it happened. A character tells how she threw herself down the stairs in an attempt to miscarry her child.

Was The Miracle Club filmed in Lourdes? ›

Shot on location in Ireland – between Dublin, and Wicklow as well as at the Ardmore Film Factory where a number of iconic locations were recreated (including the world-famous Grotto at Lourdes), it's a heartfelt story of friendship, forgiveness and faith… even if it is a bit twee at times.

Did Kathy Bates do her own singing in The Miracle Club? ›

Kathy Bates is showcasing her singing skills. In an exclusive clip from Sony Pictures Classics' The Miracle Club, Bates' Eileen sings "He's So Fine" onstage with Lily (Maggie Smith) and Dolly (newcomer Agnes O'Casey) on backup vocals.

Is The Miracle Club based on a true story? ›

While the characters are fictional, The Miracle Club pays homage to the resilient working-class Irish women of Smallhorne's youth. Released in July 2023, The Miracle Club is a delightful Irish dramedy that stars Oscar-winners Kathy Bates and Dame Maggie Smith.

Why did Roger Ebert win a Pulitzer Prize? ›

In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times said Ebert "was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic," and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called him "the best-known film critic in America."

What movie has 10 stars? ›

10 Star Movies
  • The Shawshank Redemption. 19942h 22mR. ...
  • The Godfather. 19722h 55mR. ...
  • The Dark Knight. 20082h 32mPG-13. ...
  • The Godfather Part II. 19743h 22mR. ...
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. 20033h 21mPG-13. ...
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. 20012h 58mPG-13. ...
  • Forrest Gump. 19942h 22mPG-13. ...
  • Inception.

Who recently became the first actor to have 4 movies that have grossed over $2 billion at the box office? ›

Zoe Saldaña Becomes First Actor to Have 4 Movies Make Over $2 Billion at Box Office.

Why did Declan drown in The Miracle Club? ›

She also reveals that Declan, who was believed to have drowned, had actually committed suicide out of despair when Lily objected to his relationship with Chrissie. Daniel comes to Chrissie and signals that his mother is in distress.

What does Daniel say in The Miracle Club? ›

Unfortunately, these positive portrayals are neutralized by the story arc for Dolly's young son Daniel (Eric D. Smith). The boy doesn't speak, and Dolly spends much of the film upset and terrified that he'll never do so.

Where did they film The Miracle Club? ›

Filming locations
  • Dublin, Ireland. Helpful•6. ...
  • Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. Helpful•5. ...
  • Ireland. Helpful•4. ...
  • Emmet Square, Intake, Booterstown, Dublin, Ireland. (Ariel scenes, terrace houses & sea view of Dublin Bay) Helpful•2. ...
  • Great South Wall, Poolbeg, Dublin, Ireland. (Opening scene - Maggie Smith at plaque to Declan Fox)

Does Daniel talk in miracle Club? ›

When the action begins, Chrissie surprisingly returns to attend her mother's funeral and stays for the trip to Lourdes. Dolly (Agnes O'Casey) is a hard-pressed young mother who wants to go to Lourdes to seek a miracle for her small son Daniel (Eric D. Smith), who does not speak.

What church is in The Miracle Club? ›

Reviews:“A handful of terrific actors make the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, hoping for a miracle.

Is The Miracle Club a religious movie? ›

“The Miracle Club” may not be a faith-based movie in the traditional sense (that is, a film made with an explicitly evangelical Christian agenda), but this Ireland-set art-house offering is a movie about faith all the same — specifically, about the conviction that drives four women to make the pilgrimage from Ireland ...

What happens in The Miracle Club? ›

Four ladies from Balllygar, Ireland join a travel group going to Lourdes hoping for personal miracles to happen. That's it in a nutshell, but on the other hand it says almost nothing about the substance of this warm and mostly gentle film.

What is the plot of The Miracle Club movie on Netflix? ›

Plot. In 1967 Ireland, two elderly women, Lily and Eileen, along with a younger woman, Dolly, form a musical band called the Miracles as part of a talent show organised by the Catholic Church and win tickets to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes for various reasons.


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