Maggie smith

The miracle of The Miracle Club is that it does, I promise, end

The Miracle Club, which is about a group of Irish women who travel to Lourdes, has a magnificent cast – Maggie Smith, Kathy Bates, Laura Linney – and it inspired me to pray. ‘Dear God,’ I found myself praying mid-way through, ‘let this be over soon.’ The film’s stars make it just about watchable but it’s still a disappointingly trite and shopworn affair. It’s as if three thoroughbreds have been entered in the local donkey derby. It inspired me to pray. ‘Dear God,’ I found myself praying, ‘let this be over soon.’ It is written by Jimmy Smallhorne, Timothy Prager and Joshua D. Maurer, and directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan. I’ve

Fellowes fluffs it: Downton Abbey – A New Era reviewed

Downton Abbey: A New Era is the second film spin-off from the TV series and, like the first, it doesn’t have to try especially hard if at all. It could be two hours of Mrs Hughes darning socks or two hours of Mrs Patmore concocting something disgusting (kidney soufflé?) or two hours of Lady Grantham requesting tea in bed and fans would still love it to the tune of whatever the last film made. (Millions.) That said, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for it. As the theme music starts up and we get that first sweeping vista of the estate, it feels reassuring and familiar,

The best theatre of the 21st century

Not looking great, is it? Until we all get jabbed, theatres may have to stay closed. And even the optimists say a reliable vaccine is unlikely to arrive before Christmas. As the darkness persists, here’s a round-up of my leading experiences over nearly two decades as a reviewer. There’s been a surge of output. More theatres have opened, especially on the London fringe, and several have created annexes for experimental work. Musicals have proliferated. The rise of the box-set has been excellent for the West End. Global hits such as Game of Thrones have created a host of British stars with enough clout to sell out a three-month run in