“Rhapsody in Bloom” is an old-fashioned romantic comedy-drama that stars Penelope Ann Miller as a surrogate mother hiding behind responsibility as an excuse to keep her emotional life and career on hold. While it lacks the beguiling qualities to be a viable theatrical item, the good-looking feel-good movie’s able, attractive cast and solid family values should help it find an audience in ancillary markets.
For five years, since the death of her sister-in-law, Lilah Bloom (Miller) has uncomplainingly put aside her artistic aspirations to devote herself full-time to caring for her brother Mitch (Ron Silver) and being a mother to his three emotionally scarred children. But when Mitch brings home Debra (Caroline Goodall), the officious career woman he intends to marry, Lilah suddenly feels herself being nudged toward the door and the frightening prospect of a life alone. The appearance on the romantic horizon of a charming musician, Jack (Craig Sheffer), only adds to her confusion.
When Mitch’s engagement to Debra crumbles under the pressure of family commitments, he presumes things will revert to the way they were. But the wheels of Lilah’s independence have irrevocably been set in motion, causing conflicts with her brother, his kids and with Jack.
While pic breaks no new ground, first-feature director Craig Saavedra smoothly steers events to a satisfying conclusion in which parental, sibling and romantic bonds are warmly reinforced.
Along with likable work from the adult leads — even Goodall’s frosty character is kept within amusing, sympathetically human boundaries — Saavedra draws solid performances from the three children (Michael Shulman, Miles Marsico, Jamie Renee Smith). The 1940s throwback feel of the material is echoed in the choice of unmodernized L.A. locations and in composer David Michael Frank’s bouncy, big-band-style score.