Peter O’Fallon’s A Rumor of Angels is short-story quaint, a touching story that negotiates a child’s pain for his dead mother via his relationship with an old woman straight out of Eudora Welty. O’Fallon wastes no time in planting a young James (Trevor Morgan) onto the worn path outside Maddy’s (Vanessa Redgrave) home. James has yet to deal with his mother’s death and Maddy turns out to be an unlikely source of inspiration—she mends wounds through Morse code messages to a spiritual world occupied by her son and his fellow dead soldiers. Fear not if Rumor of Angels resembles a Tom Sawyer sub-adventure featuring a knife-wielding bitty (“What makes you think I want to paint your stupid fence?” James says to the kooky woman. The film soon bridges generational gaps and maps out its passages to healing places. Maddy teaches James her Morse code and forces the young child to stare at the past and reconcile the loss of his mother. The hokiness of the film’s dialogue is diminished by a fabulously eccentric Redgrave, whose stodgy Maddy reveals herself to be as vulnerable as James. O’Fallon’s visual palette may be unspectacular but his strength lies in his observation of the higher truths that lie in ordinary moments. Maddy’s fear of riding her bike down a different path says everything that needs to be said about her uncertainties and insecurities. While James’s relationship to his father and stepmother seems to go through the Afterschool Special wringer, his connection to Maddy is incredibly pure. Rumor of Angels deals with death, spirituality and issues of emotional resuscitation without being ham-fisted, suggesting peace of mind can be had with as little as an “I love you.”
- 87 min
- Peter O'Fallon
- James Eric, Jamie Horton, Peter O'Fallon
- Vanessa Redgrave, Ray Liotta, Catherine McCormack, George Coe, Ron Livingston, Trevor Morgan
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