Oscar® winner* Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End) leads a dazzling cast, including Golden Globe nominee** Ray Liotta (Hannibal), Catherine McCormack (Spy Game), Ron Livingston ( Band of Brothers ) and Trevor Morgan (Jurassic P... more »ark III), in this touching drama aboutthe limitless power of friendship and love. Devastated by the loss of his mother, twelve-year-old James (Morgan) endures a lonely summer on Cape Cod until he befriends Maddy (Redgrave), the crazy old lady who lives by the lighthouse. But when James father (Liotta) discovers the otherworldly nature of their conversations, he forbids their friendship putting James newfound belief in the power ofloveand Maddy's belief in the power of lifeto the ultimate test! *1977: Supporting Actress, Julia **1986: Supporting Actor, Something Wild« less
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A RUMOR OF ANGELS - a film I don't recall seeing advertised for theater public consumption - is like that rare find on a misty beachcoming afternoon. Here is a story so simple yet so rich that it should be viewed by a much larger audience. Yes, Vanessa Redgrave fans will of course pick up the DVD on the merits of her enormous gifts as an actress. Or perhaps word of mouth will spread the news that someone cared enough to make a life-affirming film in the midst of all the action/implosion noisemakers. Very simply, the film is based on a book 'Messages from a Soldier to his Mother' that opens the window to the concept of what happens to us when we die. The journal kept by Redgraves' character ( Maddy Bennett, a gnarly old woman who is a loner but sensitively in touch with her take on this world and the one after) is eventually shared with an emotionally devastated boy of 12 to help him accept his mother's accidental death, a death for which he feels responsible. It all works well as a story without becoming maudlin, due in no small part to director Peter O'Fallon and his sterling cast. Not only does this damaged child find solace about the question of death, his wonderfully colorful mentor Maddy teaches him about music, about living, about forgiving. The musical score is beautifully enhancing in the form of Mozart (Symphony No. 39, a two piano sonata, and the exquisite choral Ave Verum Corpus). The physical settings are magnificent, the camera work, set dressing, editing, and of course the luminous gifts of actor Vanessa Redgrave all make this a film worth seeing and owning. Highly recommended."
Insightful Drama from Peter O'Fallen
Reviewer | 07/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Youth and guilt can be a potent combination, especially in the wake of a tragic accident, when they come together to manifest responsibility where there is none; imagined or real, fault precipitates inordinate guilt that can weigh a person down. And such a burden is hard for anyone to carry, but can be especially devastating if the individual in question is young and blameless, the very situation examined by director Peter O'Fallen in "A Rumor of Angels," the heartfelt drama of a boy emotionally disabled by the memory of the car wreck that claimed the life of his mother, and who now bears the guilt of survival, amplified by the passing of time and self-incrimination. It's a bitter pill, better left in the bottle; but without solace, a task easier said than done.For some two years, young James Neubauer (Trevor Morgan) has struggled with the loss of his mother, and a contrary attitude born of self-reproach has created a seemingly unbridgeable chasm between him and his father, Nathan (Roy Liotta), who is often away on business, and the relationship he has with his stepmother, Mary (Catherine McCormack), is tentative at best. His real problem, though, lies in the fact that he is simply unable to express the feelings of darkness that have since the accident encroached upon his soul. Of those around him, he seems able to relate only to Nathan's younger brother, his Uncle Charlie (Ron Livingston); it's something, but not nearly enough.His life takes a turn, however, when circumstances bring him into contact with an eccentric old woman, Maddy Bennett (Vanessa Redgrave), who lives alone in an old house by the sea. Something from her past strikes a chord that produces a bond between them, and Maddy's insights into life and loss soon begin to have an effect on James. But Maddy has ways and ideas that to some are strange; and conflict arises when Nathan gets wind of the relationship that has formed between his son and Maddy, and when, for better or worse, he determines to see it stopped.As a storyteller, O'Fallen has a nice touch; he wastes no time in getting right to the heart of the drama, moving it all along even as he is setting it up. It's an effective approach, in that it puts you in the story very quickly and allows for some reflective moments without retarding the pace or development of the characters or the story. And the way he inserts "flashes" of flashbacks to the accident throughout the film gives the viewer some real insight into what's going on in James' head. It's not a revolutionary technique, by any means, but O'Fallen knows how to use it well, and to great effect. He provides the action with a sense of real time, which makes the relationship between Maddy and James convincing as it develops, and as this is the pivotal aspect of the film, it makes it credible and believable. This is a story of two unlikely people finding and making an impact on one another's lives, and O'Fallen does a good job of avoiding the maudlin sentimentality to which such a story could be predisposed. And he does it by tempering the sentiment with real emotion, rather than resorting to melodrama to sell it, which O'Fallen obviously realized would have been entirely ineffective. Instead, he takes the high-- albeit harder-- road, and keeps it real, which in turn takes the film to a higher level. O'Fallen has a discerning eye and the capacity to understand human nature, as well as the ability to translate it convincingly to the screen.Young Trevor Morgan came into this project with an impressive resume that includes such films as "The Sixth Sense," "The Patriot," "Jurassic Park 3" and "The Glass House," and he has obviously prospered artistically from his experience, which he indicates with his work here. Morgan's portrayal of this conflicted young man is mature, and he resoundingly captures James' attitude and state of mind in terms that are real and convincing. To make the film work, Morgan has to convey emotions that, due to his particular situation, must transcend the typical complexities of youth; and he succeeds in doing so. He also develops his character honestly, as evidenced by the manner in which his relationship with Maddy proceeds. It's a solid performance, with a quality that is natural and altogether affecting.The highlight of the film, however, is the performance turned in by Vanessa Redgrave, as Maddy. With this portrayal, Redgrave creates a character that is the very affirmation of the joys of life, as her Maddy fervently embraces it in all it's myriad aspects, running the full gamut of emotions as she does so. This is a role that allows Redgrave to break loose and give herself over totally to the character, and she immerses herself in Maddy, this unique individual to whom reality is but a canvas upon which she may impose her own version of it, while keeping her own counsel and living as she will. It's a vibrant performance, touching and poignant and alive, and arguably one of her best in a long, long time. This is work that is truly "Redgrave," which attests to her endless capacity and talent as an actor, including her ability to so profoundly touch her audience.Liotta, McCormack and especially Livingston are effective in their respective roles, as well, offering strong support to Redgrave and Morgan, who are clearly the stars of the show. In retrospect, though, it's the strength of one performance that adds to the strength of another, transferring and sharing as it does a collective energy that insures the success of this film. The supporting cast also includes George Coe (Dr. Jenkins) and Michelle Grace (Lillian). A film that will make you feel, as well as think, "A Rumor of Angels" is satisfying entertainment that encourages you to take pause and take stock of the things that are truly important."
Well worth watching!
Gene Bitner | Amarillo, TX United States | 09/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has some of the same plot and setting elements as
"Man Without a Face", and has a 'generational bridge' similar to that which "On Golden Pond" did so well.It is about a young boy who becomes friends with a crabby old lady. Both the boy and the lady (played wonderfully by Vanessa Redgrave) have lost loved ones--- the boy having witnessed his mother's death in an accident only a few years before. It is a case of help from outside the family being more effective than help from within the family. I suspect that this would happen a lot more if we did not have to keep our kids away from all 'strangers'.Both the boy and the old lady fill a special need for each other at one certain time in their lives. Unlike most films, there is really no one to hate in this one-- that in itself is rare. You actually wind up liking everyone in this movie-- or at least I did.I would have done a different ending had I been the director-- the one used is not very subtle and was difficult for me to believe... not the basic intent of it, but the media it used. You will know what I mean if and when you see it.The box said PG-13 and mentioned some 'brief drug references'??
HUH? The old lady won't take her medicine-- Geeze! Some very mild profanity.A special treat in the film is the music! I watched the VHS version, but by all means go for the DVD-- I was cheated out of 1/3 of all the scenes with the "fit to your screen" version.I give it a "5" out of "5" with a few reservations. The technical guys should have asked a few ham radio operators about the way transmitters work (you have to have a receiver also!), and 'keys' don't make tones just by themselves. But all in all, a very good effort."
Don`t forget Trevor Morgan - he is amazing in this one
Torsten Behm | Hamburg Germany | 03/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most of the previous reviews already let you have an idea how beautiful this movie is. Though it`s quite a tear-jerker at times, there is so much beauty in the movie. Shots of the landscape are brilliant and create wonderful moods, the soundtrack is selected beautifully. Of course, the acting of Vanessa Redgrave is wonderful, but in all those previous reviews I can`t find a word about the amazing acting-job Trevor Morgan did here. His roles in "Jurassic Park" and "The glass house" were always too small - here he is the star of this movie. His face displays the feelings, the many different moods this 12 year old boy is going through so perfectly. He simply is amazing! This shouldn`t be ignored :-) I hope to see him again in a leading role quite soon.
Meanwhile, if you are at least a bit romantic, don`t miss this DVD."
Get the Kleenex!
Diva | Coronado, CA United States | 07/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Watched this movie for the first time sitting on an airplane. I was not particularly challenged to watch the movie from the initial description. I began watching after the first half and becamed hooked. I had to buy the DVD just to see the parts I missed. Vanessa Redgrave was wonderful as an old eccentric lady. I am not fond of tear jerkers, usually, but this movie really appealed to my sense of hope about life after death."