The Third Miracle

"Good"

The Third Miracle Review


Ed Harris is an amazingly honest actor. Whether he's playing a megamaniacal military rogue (like in "The Rock"), an egomaniacal TV producer ("The Truman Show") or an everyday dad ("Stepmom"), he so fully understands his characters' foibles and drives that he taps right into the cores of their beings.

It's not so much that he's a chameleon who disappears into his parts, as it is that he visibly enjoys becoming the people he plays. There is a rapture in the way he performs that is just a joy to watch.

In the complex, compelling and intimate "The Third Miracle," Harris plays Father Frank Moore, a disillusioned Catholic priest who debunks miracle claims for the church -- a man whose psyche has become scarred with hesitancy and regret after years of shooting holes in people's beliefs.

This is a complicated role for the actor -- which is probably why he leaves such a deep impression from the first moment he's on screen. This priest loves God, it's in his eyes (they're a window to the soul, you know), but he's not sure anymore that his work is a service to his Lord. Although he still embraces and personifies Christian ideals, he's in a deep crisis of faith -- which is why the film first finds him semi-retired and living among the soup kitchen set.

But Moore may have found his personal salvation in his case for the canonization of Helen O'Regan (Barbara Sukowa), an illiterate, Chicago nun whose favorite statue of the Virgin Mary cries blood every year around the anniversary of her death.

Desperate to rediscover his wavering conviction after years of doing his job so well he's become known as "The Miracle Killer" among his peers, Moore latches onto proving this woman a saint as a way to make up for his past of ecclesiastical muckraking.

Directed by Agnieszka Holland ("Washington Square," "Europa, Europa") and adapted from Richard Verete's novel of the same name, "The Third Miracle" follows Frank Moore's intricate path of doubt and rediscovery as he becomes more and more convinced that this woman was an instrument of God.

The film's gritty personal journey is complimented by its mystery-like atmosphere, as the priest investigates two claims of miracles performed by Sister Helen -- the healing of a cancer-afflicted little girl (who has since grown up into a trampy teenage junkie), and the act of faith that opens the film in a grainy flashback: When this nun was a little girl herself, she had lived in Czechoslovakia during World War II, where bombs literally disappeared from the skies over her village upon young Helen's prayer on the steps of her church.

The discovery of this inexplicable act, proves both wondrous and frustrating for Moore, as he can find no living witnesses and making his case isn't proving easy anyway.

Temptation stands in his way, in the form of the Helen's agnostic daughter (Anne Heche) who taps into his doubt and his desire. Road blocks are thrown up by a prejudiced and skeptical Cardinal (Armin Meuller-Stahl), who dismisses the faith healing with an arrogant sniff and hounds on the fact that this woman virtually abandoned her daughter when she gave her life over to the church (which explains Heche's faithlessness, but not her thrift shop fashion victim wardrobe).

Harris plumbs the depth of Frank Moore's ardent but conflicted soul. He's is tapped into the character's convoluted beliefs that lean away from loyalty to the church and toward direct loyalty to God. He follows his heart and his instincts, even to the point of giving money from a collection box to the hard-luck girl Helen once healed, who soon thereafter falls into a coma after being savagely beaten in a drug deal gone bad.

The fact that the girl has strayed so wildly from Christian ideals is something the powerful and pompous Cardinal latches on to in angry debates with Moore during hearings on Sister Helen's sainthood that ring with the tension of a courtroom drama, thanks to director Holland's firm grasp on the moods throughout the film, which she accents with dark colors, exploring close-ups and a moving soundtrack rich with the finesse of plaintive string bass.

"The Third Miracle" has its flaws. I doubted the priest's rather rapid surrender to temptations of the flesh with Heche (if it weren't for his white collar, one episode might have played like any conventional Hollywood love scene). And hyper-sensitive Catholics might want forewarning that it doesn't show the church in the best light (although it's considerably less blasphemous than the irreverent "Dogma" or "End of Days," in which Arnold Schwarzenegger locks horns with the devil).

But it does portray the personal pursuit of faith in a way rigidly organized religion practically prohibits, and Harris demonstrates that pursuit in every nuance of dilemma and revelation in this, his career-best performance.



The Third Miracle

Facts and Figures

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 20th April 2000

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Production compaines: American Zoetrope, Haft Entertainment, Franchise Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Werner

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

Advertisement
A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.