Vanessa Redgrave is such a reliable pro that even cast as an eccentric recluse in Peter O'Fallon's "A Rumor of Angels," she brings dignity to her role and a certain cachet to the whole movie. A variant of the coming-of-age genre, this soft melodrama offers a look at James Neubauer (Trevor Morgan), a 12-year-old boy spending a summer on the Maine coast with his eccentric uncle (Ron Livingston). Despite good acting from the entire cast, yarn is a bit dull and predictable, straining too hard to convey its spiritual message, which means that its future more likely lies on cable and premium channels than on the big-screen.

Vanessa Redgrave is such a reliable pro that even cast as an eccentric recluse in Peter O’Fallon’s “A Rumor of Angels,” she brings dignity to her role and a certain cachet to the whole movie. A variant of the coming-of-age genre, this soft melodrama offers a look at James Neubauer (Trevor Morgan), a 12-year-old boy spending a summer on the Maine coast with his eccentric uncle (Ron Livingston). Despite good acting from the entire cast, yarn is a bit dull and predictable, straining too hard to convey its spiritual message, which means that its future more likely lies on cable and premium channels than on the big-screen.

O’Fallon’s follow-up to his more striking debut, “Suicide Kings,” reps a change in format, pacing and sensibility — not necessarily for the better. Isolated from his busy and severe father, Nathan (Ray Liotta), and resentful of his new stepmom, Mary (Catherine McCormack), James is haunted by the car accident that killed his mother. The friendship he develops with the mysterious, crazy Maddy (Redgrave) changes his life and helps James come to terms with death.– Emanuel Levy

A Rumor of Angels

Production

A CineTel Films production. (International sales: A Rumor of Angels Inc., L.A.) Produced by Lisa Hansen, Paul Hertzberg, Peter O'Fallon. Executive producer, John Hamilton. Co-producers, John Paul Pettinato, Meg Liberman. Directed by Peter O'Fallon. Screenplay, James Eric, Jamie Horton, O'Fallon, based on "Thy Son Liveth, Messages From a Soldier to His Mother" by Grace Duffie Boylan.

Crew

Camera (color), Roy H. Wagner; editor, Louise Rubacky; music, Tim Simonec; production designer, Stephen McCabe; costume designer, Natasha Landau. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 10, 2000. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Vanessa Redgrave, Ray Liotta, Catherine McCormack, Trevor Morgan, Ron Livingston, George Coe.
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