The two teenagers Jimmy and Rose spend their vacation at the small Irish sea-resort Bray. Out of boredom they observe other people and imagine wild stories about them. One day they observe the blonde Renee, and Jimmy is immediately fascinated by her and even follows her home. She, too, seems to like him, but for a mysterious reason keeps him at a distance.
"My greatest fear is you'd end up like Scrotum." "Who's Scrotum?" "He's a bit of a bollock." So goes the aimless but endearing banter in The Miracle, played out here between single parent Sam (McCann) and his son Jimmy (Byrne), filling out the gaps and there are several in Neil Jordan's quirky portrait of an Irish seaside town where teen Jimmy and his chum Rose (Pilkington) enliven their interminably dull summer holidays by inventing colourful backgrounds for everyone they meet.
With the arrival in town, however, of glamorous thirtysomethmg blonde Beverly D'Angelo here displaying more cleavage than talent the kids' harmless pastime turns into something altogether more complicated. Young Jimmy becomes increasingly obsessed, as only a lovelorn yoof can, by the mystery blonde; the blonde becomes increasingly obsessed, in a distinctly maternal manner, with Jimmy ; Jimmy's Guinness-sodden, jazz musician dad a wonderfully full-bodied performance by McCann is increasingly annoyed, in a distinctly paternal manner, by all this unwholesome behaviour; and the whole emotional mess fumbles towards a somewhat predictable denouement.
Unfortunately, though, the bittersweet tale doesn't end here and even Jordan's painterly eye, a neatly-turned and amusing script, fresh debuts by Pilkington and Byrne, and a splendid backing track courtesy of sax king Courtney Pine, cannot lift the second half of the film from an overly-long-winded wallow in Catholic guilt and pubescent angst.
Which is a pity, as The Miracle is a welcome return for Jordan both to his Irish roots and the intimate style of filmmaking he handled so well in his 1982 debut, Angel, and, most famously, Mona Lisa.
Beautiful visuals and a decent script can't save a film which spends too long wallowing in the Catholic angst.