Director Thaddeus O’Sullivan finds no need to work miracles when he combines three top notch actresses with world class scenery. Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, and Laura Linney work magic for The Miracle Club. Playing a contentious trio in 1967 Dublin, the women raise the movie above familiar elements in its simple screenplay. The story has Linney’s character attend her mother’s funeral in Dublin after fleeing the region years earlier. This makes former best-friend Eileen—a.k.a. Kathy Bates—and mom’s bud Lily—the once again prickly Maggie Smith—simmer with resentments bubbling despite the passage of decades. And yet the three end up on a bus together, traveling to Lourdes, France in the hopes of finding the kind of miracle each one needs.
Bouncy, fluty music sets the tone, its perkiness predicting a happy resolution for all those heavy past conflicts. Snarls and growls aside, Smith, Bates, and Linney seem destined for a huggable end causing viewers little stress along the way. Ignoring the predictability of their world, the actresses put all seriousness into their roles and characters, giving the film its biggest selling point. Bates takes on the extra challenge of an Irish accent, which seems less of a stretch for Smith. Meanwhile, Linney bypasses the issue with the assumption that anyone living in Boston will eventually lose their Irish lilt. Accent or not, the real key comes from portraying emotions, a skill set repeatedly proven by the movie’s stars. Their blending of talent gives director O’Sullivan a huge advantage. Since he also benefits from breathtaking scenery in both Ireland and France, it proves no miracle that
the club looks so good.