You come away from Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s The Miracle Club not at all dissatisfied with the ride, but also with a sense that there’s a harder, darker and more necessary film beneath its sentimental surface. 

O’Sullivan takes us back to the Ireland of 1967, a country still very much devoted to the Catholic Church but becoming aware that things can and must change – particularly for women.

Chrissie (Laura Linney) left the town four decades ago in disgrace. Now, and for the first time, she returns from her home in Boston, Massachusetts for the funeral of her estranged mother. But you know how small towns are. Old resentments linger.

Maggie Smith, Agnes O’Casey and Kathy Bates stand next to each other in matching embroidered floral dresses.

Maggie Smith, Agnes O’Casey and Kathy Bates in The Miracle Club

Childhood friend Eileen (Kathy Bates) hasn’t forgiven her. Nor has the wizened Lily (Maggie Smith), a close friend of her mother’s. 

Meanwhile, apparently with the blessing of all, the friendly Father Dermot (Mark O’Halloran) has combined the funeral wake with a talent competition. The...