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Holy Housewife
lou-5020 February 2000
"Dogma" showed that throwing darts at the Roman Catholic Church isn't hard to do. Similarly, "Stigmata" created villains within the Church hierarchy with relative ease. The hard part is making some sense of what motivates priests and nuns to carry on in spite of this undeserved negativism. That's what makes "The Third Miracle" a joy to watch - a film that goes beyond stereotypes and biases to try to find answers. There is something in this film that believers and non-believers can take away from even though "The Third Miracle" has decidedly taken a strong stand about matters of faith. The linking of a wayward postulator, Father Frank, searching to legitimize a common woman for sainthood, with his own personal search for God is very effective. Equally so is how the film shows the powerful role of secularism in the lives of men we call 'holy' (can it be any more obvious than the Bishop's mud bath?). A stroke of trickery at the end doesn't spoil the way this film invites us to consider faith as truly an all-or-nothing proposition. Certainly for Father Frank, the invitation to faith and to his own priesthood was based on a shaky bargain with God to spare the life of his father. For Roxane, the daughter of Helen O'Reagan, the decision to exclude God was equally as capricious - that God would take her mother away from her just because she had to do God's work. For Archbishop Werner, the God he defends and the God he internalizes are two different beings - one who is all knowing and all powerful, the other who cannot see beyond things black and white. "The Third Miracle", then, is not just about canonizing a dead woman, a holy housewife, but about how these three living players interact and struggle with each other to arrive at their own faith. This interaction is played out so well due to brilliant performances by Anne Heche, Ed Harris, and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Miracles strengthen one's faith but the visible miracles are more likely to move those who need a sign to believe. The irony of Father Frank is that he was instructed to disprove the very extraordinary acts of faith which he desperately needed to save his own spiritual life. It took him two hours, the length of this film, to find his miracle. "The Third Miracle" leaves us with a similar challenge, how long will it take for us to find that same miracle, that same faith.
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A very impressive film with a miraculous performance by Ed Harris
mattymatt4ever31 May 2001
It was a treat watching this movie, being that I haven't checked out any low-budget or indie films in a long time. This is one of the lesser-known movies that is definitely worth watching. I was curious about it, mostly to see Ed Harris' performance. I've always loved Harris in everything he does, so I knew I could at least look forward to seeing a great actor at work. I have to say, this is one of his best performances. It's subtle and powerful, and he doesn't play his typecasted villainous role. This is a very different role for him, and one to remember. The premise and overall plot is intriguing, and Holland (I'm not gonna even bother spelling out the first name) does a fine job at keeping the suspense. It brings out great morals about Catholic faith, and faith in God just in general. And it proves that even people of priesthood can screw up, falter to temptation, but can still be summoned by God. Harris' character is a washed-up alcoholic, but God still sent him to investigate this alleged saint. Harris was even questioning his own faith, which made it even more interesting.

"The Third Miracle" is one of the overlooked films of 1999, and I definitely suggest you give it a viewing. You won't be disappointed.

My score: 7 (out of 10)
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Finally, Hollywood portrays faith in an unbiased way.
childintime-18 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I am not well qualified to comment on this movie from any technical or artistic perspective. However, it has now become my favourite movie for one reason. As a man of faith, I have had to endure years of Hollywood trivializing or sensationalizing most aspects of faith and religion. It seems to be the one subject with which they can find no degree of comfort or reconciliation. The Third Miracle, however, is a luminous study in how several characters learn to deal with their own faith, and yet it never tries to advocate any of those as right or wrong. It even avoids trying to be too specific about just how the struggle is resolved for each person. In the end there is a sense that they are all just a little further down the road. And that is, to me, exactly what faith is all about.

It wouldn't matter if the "religion" involved were something other than Christian (spedifically Catholic). This could have been a story about Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, or Zoroastrians. Within the context of each religion is the matter of how each believer learns and lives his faith. It is a personal struggle, a mystical relationship that draws each toward his Creator. The events portrayed in the film may seem to some to be fantastic or surreal, but faith is also each of those. Miracles are intended for those who witness them, and they are simply what happens when a higher law than the one we thought immutable comes into play. One can't prove a miracle to another any more than the other can disprove it.

The two most interesting characters are those portrayed by Ed Harris and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Each has had profound experiences with both faith and religion, and come to starkly differing conclusions. And yet each man's dedication to his convictions is compelling. Harris' scene in the confessional booth is a heart-wrenching example of how impotent one can feel when in moments of doubt. Mueller-Stahl later gives a chilling demonstration of the intolerance that can arise when one denies the promptings of the spirit: "Caprice of God! I would say it to His face if He were here now!"

As for the rest of the movie, I will leave that to those who write in very clever and articulate language about character and plot development, cinematography, and such. I will say that I found no serious flaws in it, from the small amount I have learned of such things from reading many such reviews. I'm not sure why such illusory fare as Pulp Fiction becomes legendary, while a faithful rendering of human realities like The Third Miracle becomes a marginalized curiosity. Do we derive more inspiration from caricatures than from characterizations?
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Above average script elevated by fine acting, cinematography, and music
mrnews9715 August 2001
Bottom line: this is a "crisis of faith" story. The main character (Ed Harris) is a priest who has doubts, but wants to believe. He has already successfully debunked one candidate for sainthood; now his superiors ask him to investigate another. Along the way, he is sexually tempted by the saint-candidate's daughter (Ann Heche), and then opposed by a brilliant but embittered German arch-bishop. There's no sex, violence, sci-fi, or spectacular special effects in this one, folks. Just plain old good acting by the leads and supporting characters, excellent and evocative photography, and a first-rate musical score that adds to the overall enjoyment of the film. The script does have its flaws, which prevent "The Third Miracle" from being absolutely brilliant, but I was disappointed when the movie ended: I wanted more! Would that the absorbing story and its details continue: Is the candidate ever granted sainthood? Does the arch-bishop change his attitude publicly? And whose baby IS that? But these and other theological issues are what you will ponder and debate after the credits are over. And that's what makes this a worthwhile film.
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Don't be late for this movie…
ruby_fff4 February 2000
Yes, don't be late for this movie. What you see at the beginning sequence sets up the rest of the movie. It's the backbone of the plot. You have to take this film in whole. There are flashbacks. There are video playbacks within the film. They are subtle link backs - rather like navigating on the Web, and this Web is one of Ed Harris' character, who is struggling within himself - his mind, heart and soul, wrestling out of his own doubting web of gray matter. It's clicking on memories, description of things happened before, back to the present, rewind to the beginning imageries… It's challenging that way - it is a dramatic delivery of a story about humanity, faith, living and loving.

The saint to be or not to be is portrayed by Barbara Sukowa - for me, she can very well be a saint after her passionate performance of 1986 "Rosa Luxemberg", followed with her role in 1991 "Voyager" played opposite Sam Shepard and Julie Delpy. The reason of one leaving a loved one dear to one's heart, like her daughter (Anne Heche) when she was 16, hearkens to Julianne Moore's character in 1999 "The End of the Affair" where she left someone (Ralph Fiennes) she loved wholeheartedly, because of a silent promise to God due to God's answer to one's prayer. This is a similar dilemma Father Frank Shore (Ed Harris) is actually coping with.

Before "The Third Miracle", I didn't realize there's a whole Roman Catholic Church vocabulary unto its own, e.g., postulator, beatify, canonize, saint - these words were described in the dictionary within the breadth of "Roman Catholic Church." Miracle or not, it's up to the believer. How one worships is also to one's own design.

The film, on the surface, may feel rather like a Hollywood drama, yet it is not your usual topic. There are gritty scenes and challenging questions raised against one's attitude to faith. Ed Harris, Anne Heche, Armin Mueller-Stahl are a combination of actors worth watching. Whatever and however your feelings are about the subject of this film, it ultimately celebrates life.

Miraculously for 1999, "DOGMA" is an imaginative, creative piece on the Roman Catholic Church. Writer-director Kevin Smith (1994 "Clerks", 1996 "Chasing Amy") delivered an ensemble cast with Linda Fiorentino (John Dahl's 1994 "The Last Seduction") as the virginal divine connection in the center of it all; Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as the pair of angels in distress; Chris Tucker as the thirteenth apostle; and other colorful characters on this blessed adventure of a satirical religious journey. It's fun. You can tell the actors all have an enjoyable time delivering this fantasy piece!

Along the lines of miracles and controversies, 1995 "GOSPA" (means "Our Lady" in Croatian) is a film about a reportedly true event in Medjugorje, where six children believed they saw the Virgin Mary in 1981, and millions of pilgrims have visited the site since then. It follows the struggle of the parish priest (Martin Sheen) who defended the six children; it becomes more of a political drama with evolving prison and courtroom scenes. Not your usual box office fare.

Also remotely reminded me of the Schwarzenegger's 1999 "End of days", where explosive devilish special effects treatment were used in the course of the redemption of a young woman (Robin Tunney), while "The Third Miracle" provides a more thought provoking film in following the course of a young girl's (Maria) salvation, and even a glimpse into what a Vatican tribunal might have been like. The film is full of details and they came at a subtly non-stop pace, yet director Agnieszka Holland is not thrusting anything at you, rather, the film kind of grows on you after you leave the cinema. If you want something different, try this film - go see it with an open mind.
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A priest losing his faith is asked to champion the cause of a woman for sainthood.
cyteria8 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a review for those who saw the film but didn't think it's first rate. I ask you to look again. So, pardon the spoiler.

It takes confirmation of three miracles to elect a candidate to sainthood. By the end of the film, two have been confirmed. And what a wonderful way to confirm the second miracle? The confirmation is given by the Devil's Advocate himself.

But, pay attention to the title of the film.

What is the third miracle?

Magnificent. A thinking man's film.

Hollywood should be ashamed. They could never make a film this good.
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What is the third miracle, anyway?
terribracy26 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: possible spoilers.

Faith, doubt and miracles are the subjects tackled in The Third Miracle written by John Romano and based on the novel by Richard Vetere. Directed by Agnieszka Holland and starring two-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris, this 2003 film opens in a flophouse in the late 1970's. Father Frank Shore (Harris), a priest who is faltering in his faith and who has stepped away from the church, eats his meals in soup kitchens, and does what he can to help those less fortunate with whom he lives. A professional postulator ( a person who investigates claims of sainthood) Father Frank is being summoned back to authenticate the miracles of a recently deceased immigrant woman named Helen O'Regan (Barbara Sukowa) who spent her last years living in a convent as a layperson. Loved by all, she is credited with healing a young girl, and every November (the month she died) the statue weeps blood. Known as "the miracle killer" it was just such an assignment that "destroyed the faith of an entire community," and has caused his own crisis of faith. Doubt may be healthy for a layperson, but in a priest it is a certain sign of apostasy according to Archbishop Werner (Armin Muellar-Stahl) who is sent by Rome to undermine his findings in front of a church tribunal. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is not well portrayed in this film. The Archbishop's rigid determination that no saint could possibly came out of America, especially one as "ordinary" as wife and mother Helen O'Regan, counterbalances the Bishop who talks politics over golf, spends long afternoons being massaged and mud-packed, and invites colleagues to high-profile gatherings based solely on their ability to converse wittily over cocktails. Even the poor Chicago parish where the possible-saint-to-be lived is tarnished, as the local priest proudly displays rows of scarlet electric pushbutton candles for parishioners to light when they offer a prayer. Doubt and cynicism live side-by-side in Father Frank, and neither this, nor his meeting with O'Regan's feisty, atheist daughter Roxanna (Anne Heche) surprises him. Angry that the mother who abandoned her for the church is even being considered for sainthood, Roxanna invites the priest to dance on her mother's grave in an odd, yet surprisingly sexual scene. Chemistry notwithstanding, the priest is saved from further faltering by a rainy night miracle to which he is a firsthand witness. Reclaiming his collar along with his faith, he returns to the church and argues his case before the tribunal. Several other twists and turns add to the courtroom-like suspense-some we see coming and others we do not-and contribute to an enjoyable two hours. The only question that remains is: What exactly is the third miracle to which the title points? Two are arguably attributed to the candidate for sainthood, but what of the third? On the face of it, it may simply be Father Frank's return to faith, but I would argue that the miracle is ours. Rather than calling us to believe the miracles of this "saint of the people who live in the ordinary world," I suggest it calls us to look for the miracles in our own ordinary lives. In the last scene of the movie we see the first two miracles: the restoration of Father Frank Shore and the joyous motherhood of Roxanna. The third miracle is not named because it can't be named; it is different for us all. It exists in the ordinariness of our lives, and it is up to us to find it.
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Ratio meets faith
Heeling16 February 2003
The third miracle is a well written tale with a great touch of sentiment.

A priest saying G*DD*MN*D is like lung doctor lighting a cigarette, provoking, like a movie of this kind should be. It's meant to leave something to think about, for me it was commitment of an individual priest finding his way in mass traffic between his left and right ear. I enjoy these true emotions or behavior because i believe everyone on earth has a set of weaknesses. I like these true emotions and choices when it comes to mind digging.

Surely it's understandable that heavy religious people might be offended -the Archbishop was in the Nazi's army, drove around in a limo like a king and thought he was God himself-, but it's not the bible, I see it as a tale in a Catholic setting.

This movie is based on personal choices, activated by a game of chess between animal nature and common sense. Throw in some faith and a time structured plot, have it sequenced very well, put in some great dialogue and moody setting, you will get a well deserved great movie! I recommend this film, it's in a way uplifting.

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Regaining the Faith
Minofed12 February 2001
Agnieszka Holland's `The Third Miracle' is similar in many ways to one of its film contemporaries, `Stigmata." Both focus on Catholic priests who check out reports of the supernatural. Both are plagued with doubts about the faith, and as a result drink too much. Their superiors are either corrupt or evil-or both. During the course of their investigations, the priests team up with women who are not believers. They fall in love. At the end the priests and women are somewhat redeemed.

The difference in the films is what the two priests are after. In `Stigmata' it is a force that is killing the woman. In `Third' the priest (played by Ed Harris) investigates the credentials of candidates for sainthood. If he can confirm that the candidate is responsible for three miracles, he can recommend that the person be made a saint.

Harris feels guilty because a recent investigation has led to an entire community losing its faith. As a result, he has become known as `the miracle killer.' But in the course of `The Third Miracle's' plot, which focuses on Harris' investigation of a simple woman in 1979 Chicago, he regains his faith.

Convinced that there have indeed been three miracles, Harris must then argue his case before a church tribunal. A skeptical archbishop who is convinced that such a common American woman should not be granted sainthood opposes him.

The climax of the film is predictable-the average moviegoer should be able to see it soon after the archbishop is introduced. Unfortunately, the movie tacks on an ambiguous ending that leaves us wondering if the priest and woman's redemption aren't the true miracles.

The film raises a final question: Has Ed Harris ever given a bad performance, or even had a bad scene? He is assisted here by two fine other actors, Anne Heche and Armin Mueller-Stahl.
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Excellent Film
shark-4315 January 2002
This film is amazingly crafted, well-acted and thought provoking. Ed Harris gives one of his best performances (in fact, I strongly believe he deserved an Oscar nomination for THIS and not the overrated Pollock). Anne Heche delivers a strong, three-dimensional performance on a character that is hard to play. The flashbacks are beautifully shot and this film really brings up issues about faith, love and forgiveness. If you are a fan of Ed Harris, seek out this film.
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thoughtful drama
Buddy-5120 January 2001
`The Third Miracle' tackles much of the same subject matter as 1999's `Stigmata' but manages to do so without reducing it to the level of horror movie absurdity. The stories of both movies revolve around a doubting, questioning priest whose job it is to investigate and either certify or debunk purported instances of divine intervention. However, `The Third Miracle,' because it treats the material within the context of a serious drama, emerges as by far the more interesting of the two films.

Ed Harris, in a solid performance, stars as the man whose job it is to verify these ostensible miracles but who, like most movie priests it seems, has come to question his faith and to doubt his own worthiness to even carry out the task. Anne Heche delivers her customary fine performance as the cynical daughter of the woman whose potential candidacy for canonization sets the plot in motion. Indeed, the film is at its most intriguing when it allows us to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes nuts-and-bolts machinations that the church uses in determining the viability of sainthood. We watch as the Catholic hierarchy treads the fine line between faith in supernatural intervention and the more worldly concerns of pragmatic politics. We see the petty jealousies, character attacks and power struggles that reduce even the most ethereal of ventures to the level of basic human frailty. In many ways, this broader conflict reflects the one which rages on a more intimate, personal level within the tortured psyche of Harris' character himself. It is his internal struggle between doubt and faith, between the physical and the spiritual, between strength and weakness that manages to keep the many strands of the plot together even when the film, at times, verges a bit on the banal and the tedious. Happily, too, the film does not succumb to the fashionable secular cynicism that is all too common in films today. `The Third Miracle' manages to explore the many-sided complexity of this issue without trashing the spiritual nature of the topic in the process.

`The Third Miracle' is not by any stretch a great film, but it succeeds in exploring a tricky subject without insulting the intelligence of the audience along the way. After `Stigmata,' we offer our most humble thanks for that.
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Here's the third one
cpoet12 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
They told you the third miracle at the end when she says "You're a priest" and he says "And you're a mother" and the little girl (who's the saint) smiles and trots off.

Through the whole movie, Anne Heche was damaged and bitter about her mother and Ed Harris was disillusioned and shaky about his vocation, but in the end their doubts were overcome and they were both instruments of God in their respective ways. The miracle is that Ed Harris can be joyful in giving first communion to the children and Anne Heche is going to be a great mother.

The point of the movie is that not all miracles are going to be bombs disappearing in mid-air and deathbed patients getting up and walking down the church aisle--that God answers prayers with quiet miracles all the time.
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annie-952 November 1999
The Third Miracle is the best religious film I have ever seen. It was moving and beautifully filmed. It raised issues about faith and doubt and I was enthralled by the journey the doubting priest (brilliantly played by Ed Harris) made towards the restoration of his faith.
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Well played, well filmed- but I just don`t get it !
Nick Adams_31 May 2001
For a non-practising protestant this film poses somewhat of a mystery. Its well directed, the acting is good, and the filming is sensitive and beautiful.

The script however leaves me more or less clueless. The plot is basicly about a catholic priest who is assigned to test the possible sainthood of a recently deceased lady credited with two miracles. During the investigation he has has to face his own fears and doubts about his faith plus a various selection of earthly temptations.

Surprisingly the film seems to side with the whole catholic idea of sainthood, celibacy and a priesthood living their lives under the oath of obedience. This seems to be something as rare as a modern religious missionating movie.

The films other qualities makes it recommendable even to a non religious audience, but i think you have to be catholic to truly appreciate the script.
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enjoyable plot until the last 2 minutes
daniel-j-doughty20 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
title of the film is "the third miracle." the priest spends the whole damn film trying to find the third miracle. In the end he finds it. And it's accepted. The other two miracles were easily proved and witnessed. So the three miracle limit was met. But then in the last 2 minutes of the film the priest says that they've had two miracles and they're waiting for another one to happen. Pisses me off.

Honestly, I rated this film a 1 because of this horrid plot twist at the end. I would have rated it an 8 otherwise. The acting was alright, cinematography was nice as it had some footage that had to look like WWII footage, and there was an underlying plot of the priest finding his faith. Plus it managed to not bag on the Catholic church too much. I'm not Catholic, but I don't really enjoy the films that are too polar on the church.

So anyhow, if they could just cut off the last 2 minutes of the film it would have been great. As it is, IT SUCKS. It's like reading a short story for 20 minutes only to find out that the narrator was just dreaming or something. CHEAP TRICK, YOU BUTTHEADS, don't do it again.
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ladydolphin18 June 2002
This film was a more than pleasant surprise! It had appeared on a cable movie channel..never hearing any publicity on this film..I liked the title so opted to watch! This is the type of film you want to watch over and over! Ed Harris is just magnificient as the priest..and the two scenes in the pic where he questioned his another fellow priest...and then accuses the Archbishop of playing God is the best acting I have seen displayed in a long time! I do sometimes like movies of a religious or spiritual theme..but this one is different!
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raulfaust23 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I don't know which rate to give this film. It may just not be my kind of movie, or maybe it is and it's really really boring. First, the story runs too fast since the beginning, but the plot isn't engaging or involving enough to make you pay attention. And there are random things like that guy masturbating in bed in the very first minutes, what was that for? Second, the priest is annoyingly indecisive; in one scene he implicitly states the doesn't believe in his religion, then in the next scene he's already praying? As if people changed their mind about religion that quickly in real life... And what about that 'saint'? She looked more like a witch to me. And I didn't even make it to the end to know if she was accepted as a saint or not. Don't even bother if you don't have much interest in religion.
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A religious movie that isn't
Shiva-1127 February 2000
The Third Miracle: Frank Shore is the equivalent of a religious hitman - as promulgator he is charged with investigating supposed miracles for people being considered for sainthood. His work draws scorn from his contemporaries and has earned him the title "The Miracle Killer". Due in part to the inherent nature of the job and tragedies in his personal life Frank is embroiled in a crisis of faith, which only grows deeper when he is given a new assignment. Complicating matters is the fact that this one appears to be the genuine article, and not what the Church wants to hear.

Unlike other recent "religious" movies that dealt (badly) with secret cabals within the Catholic Church and evil in apocalyptic proportions (Stigmata, End of Days), or were iconoclastic satirical "exposes" (Dogma) religion is almost a cursory concern in Miracle. Character development is the saving grace if you will of this film. Shying away from special effects and dramatic action shots, the film focuses on the personal struggles that most people go through regardless of the source, be it personal development, career goals or faith. The performances are reflective of this.

Harris, known for his stoic, macho (read stale) characters took a risk with this role as a confused, vulnerable priest. It proved to be a wise decision, as he delivers what is arguably the finest performance of his career. Charles Haid is repugnant as a narcissistic Bishop, more concerned with cocktail parties and schmoozing with politicians, than he is with spiritual purity. Armin Mueller-Stahl is riveting as the Devil's advocate, a snobbish Archbishop who feels that the only legitimate qualification for sainthood is martyrdom and unknowingly holds the key to a mystery. The one weak link is Heche's character, an incidental hanger-on, but this is the fault of poor writing, rather than a bad performance.

Very well done.
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Fulton Sheen to the rescue
caspian197818 March 2005
Ed Harris plays the coolest priest this side of Toronoto. Most films fail to capture the time period the story takes place at. Here, the production value is terrific. The 1940's and the 1970's is done so well that is look like archival footage. Ed Harris is beyond great. Not only does he portray a priest, but one that is tormented with reality and his faith in God. Heche plays an equal role that is done well. A typical role for her, she plays it like she is playing herself. As for Ed Harris, this is one of his best performances that was once again over looked by the critics. The surprise ending is just that, a surprise. Most if not all the audience will not see it coming. A good story, with great acting and an uplifting ending, the 3rd Miracle is a winner.
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religion is not psychology
jonie v.26 March 2000
I agree with the other commenters that this film was well acted and well filmed, but it would be nice if once in a while the media did not portray priests who are racked by doubt and disbelief, and if the Catholic hierarchy were not mean, vicious, and despicably mundane. It looks like filmmakers believe that people will not be able to take serious portrayals of faith which are not balanced by a hefty amount of cynicism and inner struggle. Of course inner struggle is a big part of faith, but there ARE people and priests out there who just go about the business of believing in God and working for the the good of humankind without excessive torment and without having to battle a blighted hierarchy. It has become a given that representations of faith must either be corny and preachy or extremely secularized. It's as if filmmakers had figured that there are only two audiences for religious themes: the feel-good believers who watch the various angels TV shows and the questioning skeptics who need heavy-duty realism. That's not true and not accurate. Religion is a complex business, but this complexity can be shown more subtly than by secularizing the priesthood to the point of disfiguring its reality and purpose.

Same goes for miracles. What is it with blood-crying statues of the Virgin anyway? If I remember correctly there was one in Stigmata as well (and in Central Station?). And, come on, there must be a less hokey way to deal with miracles than by having a little girl walk into a church all covered in blood, then turn out a junkie, then resurrect from the dead for the whole shamed bunch of priests to see. It was all very dramatic and very corny. Myself, I preferred the heavy-handed spookiness of Stigmata: at least the force of the divine was truly palpable and religion was not reduced to someone's psychological drama.

I wish someone gave Anna Heche a role in which her incredible sexiness and charisma were used a bit better than to seduce old guys and priests. That was bit of a useless side-tracking, wasn't it? Or was it a selling technique? Either way, we could have done without it.
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Both moving and lacking, but I'd recommend it
flatrich8 April 2001
As a non-Catholic, I'm not sure if I can truly gage the impact of Agnieszka Holland's The Third Miracle. I found it both moving and lacking, but I'd recommend it to those who are wondering about the mysteries of life and the human spirit. I have no idea how the Catholic Church and its membership would feel about it.

On a purely human level, the movie is about doubt: Ed Harris is Father Frank Shore, an American priest asked by his Bishop (Charles Haid) to investigate Helen (Barbara Sukowa) an American candidate for sainthood. Along the way, Frank uncovers miraculous deeds, encounters his own doubts about his calling, and eventually seems to believe in miracles.

Other main characters have their doubts too: the prospective saint's non-Catholic daughter Roxane (Anne Heche in one of her best performances to date), the stuffy official Vatican investigator Cardinal Werner (Armin Mueller-Stahl), and Maria (Caterina Scorsone), the troubled subject of one of the questionable miracles.

Good prerequisites for this film might be Martin Scorsese's film version of Nikos Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and most of Federico Fellini's films, in particular 8 1/2 (1963) and Juliet of the Spirits (1965).

Holland lets the Church off lightly compared to Fellini, but she does successfully underscore the pomposity of the cardinals and bishops in their big cars and sparkling vestments. This leads to an essential question about her reasoning and the meaning of film's ending, but I won't give that away: I'll leave that for you to judge.
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moving and beautifully filmed
Will-3520 September 1999
I really loved this one. I think it's Hollands BEST film to date. The actors, especially Ed Harris as the priest with doubts are excellent and the story is both moving and thought provoking. Holland was at the screening I saw and said that she does not make films to send a message but rather to tell a story. I think in this case, she manages both beautifully
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masterjk228 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There's a lot of that going around. This is a home organ for the catholic church. No problem. Just label it as such. Trying to present it as some viable miracle is about as believable as sticking pins in voodoo dolls for a curse. I really don't care what anyone believes. But there should be an "R" warning for religious hooey. Movies that try and portray "facts" as true, when they aren't, aren't enjoyable. For instance, when we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" we have no trouble in discerning that it is a fantasy. They needn't label it as "F" for fantasy. Or the Exorcist. We know it's fantasy. Or the Omen. We know it's fantasy or at least I thought it was before "W". But this movie offers no relief. It is a fantasy for the faithful. Fine. Tell me that before I watch it. I kept waiting for the pig's blood to be discovered instead of the red dye on the statue. Instead, we get a lot of complete nonsense from a 3rd rate writer,Richard Vetere, who just keeps chugging these things out on his mimeograph machine. I'll bet half of the audience, as paltry as the numbers were, left thinking that Helena was a real person. Well, to solve that problem, she wasn't. As for those fanciful bombs that never fell... they did... at the box office.
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This is a great film for those who have been educated and raised in the Catholic Church.
VIratings25 September 2001
While this isn't a truly fantastical film suggesting that you jump head first into another unbelievable plot, it does broach the topic of miracles in a way that makes you think, "well, maybe." Miracles in the Catholic Church have long been debated as pure fiction vs. acts of God. As a Catholic, or anyone of religious faith, your greatest inner struggle is your faith. Do you believe in a higher diety or not?

Each character in this film experiences conflict with their faith and they work to resolve this throughout the film. I think that this is the most authentic part of the film and certainly the most rewarding. To that end, including the incredible story of several miracles and how they tie together the characters and the story delivers what I believe to be one of the better Catholic based films I've seen.

Enjoy this story.
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excellent movie
zuzuspetals2422 February 2001
I thought the movie was wonderful. Very intense and thought provoking. Ed Harris did a superb job. It is an excellent movie dealing with faith and Christianity; a subject not dealt with enough in movies today.
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