Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s comedy-drama film, The Miracle Club, showcases a rather impressive screenplay that’s elevated by the cinematography. Set in 1967 Dublin, the film stars famous actors like Maggie Smith, Laura Linney, and Kathy Bates in the lead roles. The film’s beautiful message of retrieving long-lost bonds looms large throughout its narrative. The plot brings out the urge of some women in Dublin to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. The unfortunate death of one of the friends in the circle brings her daughter to the town, who also embarks on the journey with the other women, and in the process, the rifts between them get resolved. Some of the most sought-after similar films on the miracles of pilgrimages include Pilgrimage, The Pilgrims, and others. Will the pilgrimage do miracles? Will the bath restore the long-lost health of the people visiting? Let’s find out!
What Happens In The Film?
A suburban block in Dublin hosts some working-class women who are keen on winning a ticket to Lourdes, a place that is believed to miraculously cure all bodily ailments. Lily, Eileen, and Dolly participate in the ‘Holy Cross All Stars Talent Contest,’ conducted by the parish, to win the ticket. Lily wanted a cure for her knee pain; Eileen wanted to mend the lump in her chest; and Dolly wanted a cure for her son, Daniel, who does not talk. After participating in the competition, they win the second prize, but the child winning the first prize gives them the tickets so that Daniel can get his voice back. Just as they are celebrating, the daughter of their recently deceased friend arrives. They all hold a grudge against Chrissie for abandoning Maureen and settling in America. She also holds certain prejudices that keep her from engaging with them like before.
Chrissie was reluctant to go to Lourdes earlier but receives a letter from her deceased mother at her funeral from Lily, making her change her mind at the last moment. Lily, Dolly, and Eileen’s husband’s are averse to them going to France all of a sudden, but they somehow manage to climb aboard the bus. After an overnight journey, they reach their destination, and Chrissie finds out that she has to share her room with Lily. Initially, Chrissie is avoided by everyone on the pilgrimage, but as they spend time together on their trip, they all realize their mistakes and try rebuilding their old bonds.
Does The Bath In Lourdes Cure All Physical Ailments Or Relationships?
Despite sharing the same room, Chrissie and Lily do not interact much with each other. We later see Lily and Chrissie blaming each other for the death of Declan, Lily’s son. Chrissie brings to light that she was seventeen when she got pregnant with Declan’s child and was sent away to America by her mother on the advice of Lily. Chrissie is reminded on the trip by Eileen of the good times they all used to spend together. Later, when Lily is unable to get up off her bed to visit the holy bath, Chrissie helps her up and takes her around in a wheelchair. Later, at the bath, they come across a man in a wheelchair who miraculously runs around after entering the bath. They are all seen taking the holy bath one after the other, but they later come to know that only 62 miracles since the arrival of the Virgin Mary in 1858 have been seen after the bath. Everyone else other than Chrissie and Lily had taken the bath by then. The ones who took the bath see no changes in their health and are quite disappointed. There are no improvements noticed in Daniel’s speech either, upsetting Dolly.
As the women spend their time away from their house, their husbands are seen struggling with household chores. The pilgrims are seen spending some time singing and dancing together before their day of return, and Eileen directly blames Chrissie for killing her child. When Father Dermot tries stopping her, she says that he tricked them into coming halfway around the world, where there were no miracles. Later, we see Dolly crying in her room, disappointed about her son’s speech not being restored after the bath. She shares with Eileen, Lily, and Chrissie that she once tried to abort Daniel when he was in the womb and that trauma could have been the cause of him not talking. She further tells them that she had poured five bottles of whiskey into cold water and bathed in it for the miscarriage. Chrissie assures her that it could not have been a cause of harm for Daniel because her own abortion was done in hot water after taking a few pills. This takes the load of guilt off Dolly’s mind.
Later that night, Lily asks Chrissie to take her to the bath the next morning. Before the bath, Lily confessed to Chrissie that she had lied to Declan and that Chrissie had left him to go in search of a better life in America. That lie had broken him, and he had taken his own life. They both are later seen taking the holy bath, and after it, Lily apologizes to her, and she forgives her instantly. It seems as if their hearts and minds had been purged by the holy water. Later on the bus, Eileen comes and sits beside Chrissie and says how attached she was to her. She said that she was upset that she had just left without informing her and never came back all these years. She also tells Chrissie that she has a lump in her chest, and Chrissie assures her that they will together see a good doctor. When the women return to Dublin, they are welcomed back with open arms by their families. The presence of a person is valued more in their absence! As they are all happily reuniting with their families, Daniel is heard to be uttering a word in the corner “home”- proving that miracles do happen if we believe in them! Chrissie is taken to Declan’s grave by Lily, where they are seen spending time together, ending the scene.
I am not sure if the pilgrimage miraculously mended their physical ailments, but their mental barriers and miscommunications were surely resolved. Initially, Chrissie was shown to be a cold character, lacking compassion and empathy, but with the progression of the film, we see a change of heart in her. She recognizes her old bonds and comes back to reunite with them because bonds are all that matter at the end of the day. All their confessions about their past help them eventually become new women. The belief of Dolly that Daniel would be able to talk after the pilgrimage comes true as he utters the word “home” at the end. This brings out the fact that miracles do happen, and that is all that matters after all!