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The Third Miracle The Third Miracle

The opening sequence of The Third Miracle depicts a Slovakian hamlet bombed by Allied planes in 1944 while a spiritual phenomena has spread within its denizens done for grainy effect in bleached photography.  But this mysticism is linked to an Austrian immigrant who has reportedly performed miracles and director Agnieszka Holland uses a down and out priest, Frank Shore (Ed Harris), to investigate the exulted one, Helen O'Regan, whose saintliness the church doesn't grant as Helen's many supporters observe tears of blood streaming down her statue.

Holland has difficulty clearly negotiating the early portions of the story based on a novel by Richard Vetere.  Harris's troubled theorist dwells in a Chicago soup kitchen as he is called a "Miracle Killer" for his work in a recent case that lead to twisting a community on its valued religious tenets.  An influential Catholic Bishop (Charles Haid) gets him on the trail of Maria, a teenager whom Helen saved form a fatal disease and Roxane, Helen's lonely atheistic daughter, filled with apathy by Anne Heche; her un-cooperation is finally quelled when a spark between them develops from a common love, and Harris and Heche play well off each other.

The uneven story takes an upswing in its latter half as Shore confirms the reports of Helen's statue during a storm but his report at a court proceeding is rebuked by a stern Archbishop, cogently rendered by Armin Mueller-Stahl.  But, the postulator's youthful assistant, Brother Gregory, a bit part for James Gallanders, uncovers some new findings in Europe.

The Polish born director takes quite a while to put much of this picture in the context of underscoring the meaning behind the title which has to do with three verifiable miracles to bestow one a saint.

The production values parallel the variable nature of this material and doesn't offer some needed gelling as the lensing and music indicate too much ambiguity.

But, the last act sees Holland doing her best to redeem herself, in the staging of Werner and Shore on the validation of Helen.  Harris and Mueller-Stahl generate much needed tension, but by the time The Third Miracle makes its final, dramatic statement, it struggles to make the events surrounding a defied woman compelling.

The Third Miracle

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