cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

A Rumor of Angels

Starring Trevor Morgan, Ron Livingston, Ray Liotta, Catherine McCormack and Vanessa Redgrave
Written by James Eric, Jamie Horton and Peter O'Fallon
Based on the book Thy Son Liveth: Messages from a Soldier's Mother by Grace Duffie Boylen
Directed by Peter O'Fallon
no website

IN SHORT: Find a novelization and read it instead. [Rated PG-13. 95 minutes]

Somewhere on the coast of Massachusetts is a town so small that it's cheaper to close a road than to fix a bridge that was damaged in a car accident two years earlier. The accident was the same one that killed young Jimmy Neubauer's mom. The twelve year old James (Trevor Morgan) we meet in Peter O'Fallon's A Rumor of Angels has never come to terms with the accident though his dad, Nathan (Ray Liotta), has remarried (Catherine McCormack as the lovely British lass, Mary). Uncle Charlie (Ron Livingston) stopped growing pot in the backyard 'cuz it got in the way of the tomatoes and up the road lives a nasty old Englishwoman, Maddy Bennett (Vanessa Redgrave). Maddy and is fond of shooting at Jimmy when he goes snooping about her grounds at night. They're about the only people that live in this particular scrap of MA, though there is a doctor who comes up from Boston. We're not sure about that "two years" timeframe mentioned above, either, since it's only mentioned once in the story and the flashback which recreates the accident has Jimmy looking about eight. Whatever it is, dad's a fast worker, which may be why James hates his stepmom.

We've always mandated that you shouldn't have to read the book to understand the film and, once we perused the notes that explained the genesis of the screenplay, we understood the big problem here, which we'll explain below.

Maddy describes herself as a "bitch," but she is within her rights when she demands that James repair damage he caused to part of her property. James doesn't manage to mention that Maddy was shooting at him at the time but, as he works at her house, a friendship is formed. Both characters suffer from loss; James's mother and Maddy's son Bobby, killed in the Vietnam war (though why all the pictures of Bobby as a child look as if they were shot in the 1930s is a mystery to us). James will learn Morse code for Maddy, which drops him into the replacement son category. Maddy, in turn, will try to help James with his grief, by teaching him about angels and giving him a book of "communications" received from Bobby, after his death. Dad forbids further contact with Maddy, but that doesn't stop James, especially after Maddy's heart attack. Why Maddy stays in her house, rather than go to the hospital for treatment, is not explained.

We can't even drop A Rumor of Angels into the category of "chick flicks we didn't understand" because its construction is incredibly awkward. Every scene plays like an abbreviation of a fully developed book chapter. Nothing flows evenly and director Peter O'Fallon lets enough visual continuity errors slip by in the early goings that the truly picky are going to have a field day. O'Fallon manages to put some lovely pictures up on the big screen, but his skill at telling a story -- he also contributed to the screenplay -- falls short.

This is the story we saw: Boy sees mom killed in an accident. Father is nowhere in sight. Two years later Father (returns) with a British wife, whom the son immediately dislikes. As a mom substitute, the boy forges a friendship with a local grandma type, whose son was "lost in the war." What time frame are we describing?

We're describing post W.W.II, not Vietnam, which is the alleged war in this story. Even stranger is the fact that the Source Material is a book written in the late 1800s, filled with comforting messages from beyond the grave, and you can see how three hands on the keyboard yield ninety minutes of gobbledygook. We're damned if we know exactly what story wants to be told in A Rumor of Angels, a great example of what not to do when adapting a book to the big screen but, since the source material consisted of snippets of sayings, we think the screenwriters could have made up anything they wanted to. That includes fully developed scenes instead of a grab bag of situations that barely hold the shape of a story.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to A Rumor of Angels, he would have paid . . .


Redgrave, as always, brings a great presence to the big screen. Unfortunately, neither she nor the other actors are given characters with enough background to make us care.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Peter O'Fallon
Click to buy films starring Vanessa Redgrave
Click to buy films starring Ray Liotta
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.