In The Miracle, a teenager (Niall Byrne) in an Irish seaside resort is obsessively fascinated with a visiting American actress (Beverly D’Angelo), who is really his mother, although he doesn’t know it. The boy, his wayward mother, and his dissolute, drunken father (Donal McCann) act out the kind of tangled triangle of abandonment that would keep Freud glued to the screen. Yet this movie will ultimately slap a big smile across any viewer’s face.
Director Neil Jordan’s Oedipal fantasy is as droll as it is disturbing. By telling a troubling tale in a deft, skittery style — the camera movement has the rhythms of an anxious heart — he follows every hard swallow with a goofy grin, steering clear of melodrama. An extraordinarily handsome film that loses some of its fine visual detail on video, The Miracle is very sweet, a little sad and sensual, and emotionally speaking, bristling with the unexpected. A-