Stars: Ed Harris, Anne Heche, Armin Mueller-Stahl
A confused priest, on a rather unorthodox leave of absence, is called back to work by his bishop to investigate claims of a miracle at a neighborhood church in Chicago.
Father Frank Shore (Ed Harris) has been struggling with his faith or lack of it for some time before he’s urged to look into the matter of a statue of the Virgin Mary that’s been crying bloody tears. It seems the Catholic Diocese has about as much faith as Shore does that the events are real because it only reluctantly orders the investigation. Shore goes looking to find a hoax and along the way explores his belief system as he learns about the dead woman, Helena Regan, whose life and virtues are the instrument by which the miracles are created. If Shore can find the proof, then it is his recommendation that would lead the Vatican to proclaim Regan a saint. It’s a long arduous process and the title of saint is not something the church doles out easily.
This is an interesting story but it becomes severely muddled when Shore strikes up a relationship with Helena’s embittered daughter, Roxanne (Anne Heche) who’s against helping in the investigation, not just because Heche is a less than inspired actress, but largely because it appears that the necessary scenes setting up the relationship have been edited out. They go from ‘hello, how are you?’ to their very next scene together having Roxanne hitting on Shore for a lifelong commitment of undying love. Thankfully, this little test of Shore’s faith is cut short fairly quickly and Roxanne is pretty much out of the picture after that. I’m surprised the filmmakers didn’t see how detrimental this incongruity is or perhaps they thought people would simply skip right over it.
Well, you do because you have to and you’re hoping Shore won’t get involved with her, anyway. The strength lies in Ed Harris’ performance and the basic story line revolving around his investigation into Regan. Some periphery characters, like Charles Haid as the Bishop whose idea of doing God’s work is having mud facials and hobnobbing with corporate bigwigs, leave you with a real bad taste in your mouth. And the music, in general, is often intruding. But Armin Mueller-Stahl as the egotistical archbishop is very good (as always). He presents a complex figure, key to the investigation.
Lotta says The Third Miracle is an uneven yet interesting tale.