The Third Miracle

The Third Miracle is a hokey, religious-themed movie that is the first of many that does not deal with the world ending on the millennium. In this case, it is not exactly a good thing. While Christians (in particular Catholics) everywhere are denouncing Dogma and End of Days, while ignoring both Stigmata and The Third Miracle. In the case of this movie, it is a travesty, and deserves the full wrath of the Church for its less than rosy portrayal of the Catholic Church. Not only are many of the members portrayed as bitter, mean-spirited and world loving, but the story also switches from compelling to annoying. The title refers to the number of miracles necessary in order for the Catholic Church to bestow sainthood upon someone. The story unfolds on two levels; the pursuit of sainthood for Helen O'Regan and the personal redemption of Father Frank Moore.

Moore (Ed Harris, Stepmom, The Truman Show) is having problems with his belief in God. At the beginning of the movie, the Church asks him to return and begin an investigation on O'Regan. Local lore states that a statue at the convent O'Regan worked at while alive now cries tears of blood, and locals are requesting the Church grant sainthood for O'Regan. Moore's past (which is told in flashback) brands him as "the miracle killer," which is one of the reasons for him being chosen. Certain elements in the Church do not feel O'Regan is worthy of sainthood. O'Regan, a Czech immigrant, worked with children at her church. One of these children (Caterina Scorsone) reportedly prayed to the statue, which began bleeding. Then, the blood from the statue cured her of her lupus.

Moore sets out investigating the supposed miracle and looking into O'Regan's life. The healed child is now a drug-abusing prostitute, and Moore must somehow located and interview her. Also on Moore's interview list is Roxanne O'Regan (Anne Heche, Six Days and Seven Nights, Psycho). Roxanne is a fallen Catholic; bitter at her mother for choosing the Church over her daughter. Roxanne is initially offended by Moore's inquiries, but they are quickly attracted to each other. This is where the movie grinds to a halt. There is little chemistry between both Harris and Heche and their characters, and their relationship is plain annoying. Moore seems just like a small dog that will not leave.

Later in the movie, the investigation progresses to the point where Moore now believes in the cause for O'Regan's sainthood. He may not believe in many of the principles of the church, but he knows a miracle when he sees one. This cause may be what is necessary to renew his faith in God. Werner (Armin Mueller-Stahl, The Thirteenth Floor, Jakob the Liar) is an official from Rome, who actively opposes O'Regan's sainthood. Werner is a one-dimensional character motivated by bitterness and hate. He has his own agenda, which is immediately obvious to everyone except the Church.

At the beginning of the movie, there is flashback sequence detailing a young girl praying in front of a church in an Eastern European country. The subsequent events are forgotten until the end of the movie, where all errant plot lines tie together a little too nicely. Characters act in ways that do not fit their character's personality, just to bring closure to the movie. Director Agniezska Holland (Washington Square, Total Eclipse) does a good job with the visuals of the movie, but the rest is almost forgettable. The flashbacks are grainy with and shot with a shaky camera, giving them an almost documentary-like feel. The rest of the movie is dark and foreboding, with moody lighting and ominous building interiors. Although it is only in limited release, the real miracle will occur if The Third Miracle finds its audience.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 5 minutes, Rated R for some language, sex-related and violent images, brief drug use.

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