The Miracle Club

Laura Linney and Maggie Smith have better luck than the humor or the screenplay can provide.

In a time when comedies are making fun of old women trying to be hip, there was “Book Club,” which was crappy,” and “80 for Brady,” which had its qualities. And now, in the independent sense (released by Sony Pictures Classics), we have “The Miracle Club.” It could have been delightful, considering the story is set in Dublin, Ireland of 1967, and that I’m half Irish, but it ends up becoming routine and typical.

Chrissie (Laura Linney) lost her mother, and returns home from Boston after 40 years. She reunites with her mother’s cousin Eileen (Kathy Bates) and friend Lily Fox (Maggie Smith) are both unhappy to see her, considering that she is a daughter who left home and came back only in the event of her mother’s death. And she also meets their neighbor Dolly (Agnes O’Casey), who has a mute little boy named Daniel.

They all want to win a charity contest, in which the grand prize is a trip to the French town of Lourdes with the local priest (Mark O’Halloran). It’s supposed to be a place for miracles, which the women believe they need considering their situations. Eileen has a lump in her breast and hasn’t seen a doctor about it; Dolly blames herself for her son’s speech delay; and Lily is struggling to get over the loss of her son.

They don’t win the contest, but the kind winner gives them the tickets anyway. And much to their surprise, Chrissie tags along. Maybe this trip can do her some good, although the two eldest of the group-Lilly and Eileen-might find that difficult to believe.

The trailer spoil the fact that Chrissie was “banished,” which is why she hasn’t returned home, and even when I’m seeing it in the film, I still can’t quite grasp that. It feels too derivative to even study.

The only thing I could grasp are the performances from Linney, Smith, and O’Casey who both have the kind of pacing to make them likable. Although I can’t really figure out how her character loses the Irish accent, Linney does a good job playing a woman trying to figure out the outcome of her situation. Smith adds some emotional value as an old woman dealing with Chrissie’s presence and how she lost her son. And I admire the way O’Casey’s character tries to figure out if her son will ever speak. I never spoke until I was 3-years-old, and this kid is between 5 and 6, so it is a complicated question.

“The Miracle Club” is labeled a comedy, but even as an Irishman, I’m not seeing the kind of humor, the way I’ve seen with Martin McDonagh classics like “In Bruges” and “The Banshees of Inisherin.” It’s targeted for more of the “Book Club” crowd, the ones Hollywood likes to insult.

The husbands at home have to struggle to change cloth diapers, drop groceries, and cook stew, all of which have predictable and tedious results. Niall Buggy plays Lily’s husband, who has to ask “What will I do on me own?,” Mark McKenna plays Dolly’s husband, who has to say: “Don’t even bother coming back,” and Stephen Rea plays Eileen’s husband, who thinks he’s not going to do the cooking and the cleaning. You know how movie husbands are, and they all play like sitcom characters here.

We’re going to need to find another four-leaf clover for a better script and humor, laddies and lassies.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Categories: comedy

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