The Miracle movie review & film summary (1991) | Roger Ebert (2024)

Strange, how a movie of such delicate romantic sensibilities could go astray because of a heavy-handed plot. Neil Jordan’s “The Miracle” opens with small enchantments and a warmth of feeling, and then at around the midway point gets bogged down in miscalculations that are finally fatal.

The movie takes place in a small seaside town near Dublin, Ireland, where a fancy-free young man and his best friend, a girl of about the same age, wander the town engaging in their mutual hobby of people-watching. Spotting someone, they manufacture dialogue and fantasies for them, describing them in the third person like characters in a book. Together they are re-writing the mundane small details of their village into a romantic whimsy.


One day while they're monitoring the local railway station, a beautiful blond woman gets off of the train. She is classy and glamorous - she sticks out a mile - and they are consumed with curiosity to know more about her. They follow her to the beach, they create fantasies about her, and finally she speaks to them. She is friendly. The boy is struck broadside with a crush on her.

Who is this woman? Some viewers will have guessed almost before she finishes her first dialogue scene. Others will not take much longer, but the characters in the movie are forced to wait, and wait, until a denouement so long delayed that the audience has lost patience with the movie’s other qualities.

Jordan, who wrote and produced the film as well as directing it, seems locked into the notion that it is effective to delay the boy’s discovery of the woman’s identity. The movie might have been more interesting if he had made the discovery at about the same time the audience did, and then spent the rest of the film dealing with the implications of his new knowledge. Instead, his unnaturally protracted ignorance leads to many scenes that look strange when you think back on them (after all, right from the first the woman knows who she is).

The young couple is played by two fresh young actors, Niall Byrne and Lorraine Pilkington, who remind me of the newcomers in those Scottish human comedies by Bill Forsyth like “Gregory’s Girl.” They are gawky and unpolished and utterly convincing, and we care about the boy as he dodges through life with an alcoholic father and a musical gift he doesn't know what to do with.

We get to see something of his life. He has an uneasy laissez-faire relationship with his old man, who plays in a band at the local dance hall and is not untalented, but gets drunk every night and has no self-confidence. The boy seems to have raised himself. He knows the town, he knows the music, but he doesn't know himself very well. He is bold enough to make an approach to the older woman, but not confident enough to know what to do next. He is just at that age when an attractive older woman can promise not only sensuality but knowledge - the very secrets of life. He is convinced this woman can unlock existence for him. She tries to disabuse him of this notion, but not very well, and not in the right ways. There are few things more depressing, in the fields of love, than a man who loves a woman because he believes she has the answers that he needs - a man who believes the woman has it in her own power to make him the man she desires.


The older woman is played by Beverly D'Angelo, one of my favorite actresses, who projects everything the role demands - sensuality, mystery, confusion, regret - but is another victim of the strange screenplay. Here is a movie that is about a secret, and it doesn't want to give the secret up - not until it is so painfully obvious that it has become a major distraction to our enjoyment of the film itself. A plot should be at the service of a film, but in “The Miracle” the film is at the mercy of the plot.

Film Credits

The Miracle movie review & film summary (1991) | Roger Ebert (2)

The Miracle (1991)

Rated NR

92 minutes


Lorraine Pilkingtonas Rose

Beverly D'Angeloas Renee

Donal McCannas Sam

Niall Byrneas Jimmy

Written and Directed by

  • Neil Jordan

Edited by

  • Joke Van Wijk

Photographed by

  • Philippe Rousselot

Music by

  • Anne Dudley

Produced by

  • Redmond Morris
  • Stephen Woolley


The Miracle movie review & film summary (1991) | Roger Ebert (2024)


The Miracle movie review & film summary (1991) | Roger Ebert? ›

Strange, how a movie of such delicate romantic sensibilities could go astray because of a heavy-handed plot. Neil Jordan's “The Miracle” opens with small enchantments and a warmth of feeling, and then at around the midway point gets bogged down in miscalculations that are finally fatal.

What is the main idea of the Miracle movie? ›

Miracle follows the true-life story of Coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) and his team in there goal of winning the 1980 Olympic games in hockey. Standing against them is the seemingly invincible Russian squad who the team must overcome.

What is the movie The Miracle about? ›

What was Roger Ebert's last review? ›

The last review by Ebert published during his lifetime was for the film The Host, which was published on March 27, 2013. The last review Ebert wrote was for To the Wonder, which he gave 3.5 out of 4 stars in a review for the Chicago Sun-Times. It was posthumously published on April 6, 2013.

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)

How does the movie Miracle end? ›

After the miracle is achieved, you hear Russell's Brooks describe how compelling it was for him to see so many young men from different backgrounds unite as a team to accomplish something historic. That's how the movie ends before a fun “where are they now” sequence to Aerosmith's “Dream on.”

Is The Miracle based on a true story? ›

Authenticity and Real-Life Inspiration: "The Miracle" is indeed based on a true story, drawing heavily from the historical events that unfolded during the 1980 Olympics. The movie accurately portrays the team's victory over the Soviet Union, a feat that came to be known as the "Miracle on Ice".

What is the message of the miracle season? ›

The Miracle Season is one of those movies that holds your attention even if you know the story. Despite the sad things that happen in the movie, there is a clear and hopeful message: live joyfully. And that message is present throughout the entire film. The main characters each bring something unique to the story.

Does the movie Miracle have cuss words? ›

Profanity (3)

2 scatological terms, 4 anatomical terms, 24 mild obscenities, 4 religious exclamations. And some name-calling. A little more cursing than normal PG rated Disney movie. - 18 uses of "hell", 4 uses of "ass", 4 uses of "damn", 1 use of "bastards", 1 use of "Jesus".

What were Roger Ebert's final words? ›

Sometime ago, I heard that Roger Ebert's wife, Chaz, talked about Roger's last words. He died of cancer in 2013. “Life is but a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

How old was Ebert when he died? ›

On April 4, 2013, one of America's best-known and most influential movie critics, Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, dies at age 70 after battling cancer.

How many movies did Roger Ebert see? ›

Roger Ebert started writing reviews in 1967. As a professional, he watched over 500 movies and he reviewed about 300 movies each year. Over his 40 year career, he published about 10,000 movie reviews. What did Roger Ebert rate your favorite movie?

Why was Roger Ebert so popular? ›

Each week Ebert and Siskel carried on unscripted discussions of the films they reviewed, and their immense popularity was in part due to frequently diverging opinions and a willingness to conduct heated arguments on the air.

How many stars did Roger Ebert use? ›

Every film which Roger Ebert gave a four out of four star review in his career. Does NOT include films that were initially rated lower than 4 stars but were later included on the Great Movies List.

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.

What can you learn from the movie Miracle? ›

10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Movie: 'Miracle' This movie covers many important entrepreneurial lessons
  • Leader should have hands-on experience. ...
  • Change approach to change things. ...
  • Pursue eminent goals. ...
  • Hire the right talent. ...
  • Build a collaborative team. ...
  • Analyze your competition. ...
  • Shift the mindset. ...
  • Play like champions.
Sep 25, 2017


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