The Boston Phoenix
Review from issue: September 7 - 14, 2000

[Boston Film Festival]

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From director Maggie Greenwald (The Ballad of Little Joe) comes this promising but ultimately disappointing historically derived fiction. A feisty Victorian musicologist, Lily Penleric (Anywhere But Here's Janet McTeer), leaves behind the good-old-boys network in a Northeastern college to visit her sister, a schoolmarm in the wilds of Appalachia. Lily's previous exposure to English folksongs has been limited to sitting-room recitals, so she is shocked when a local urchin bursts into "Barbara Allen" and realizes she's discovered a vast musical tradition. Lily immediately begins collecting the songs into a book, but her department wants to assign another expert (based on real folklorist Cecil Sharp) to the work and demote her to assistant. There are some wonderful scenes with traditional singers like Iris DeMent, and Aidan Quinn is appealing as the gruff-but-compassionate-banjo-picking-moonshiner-and-convenient-love-interest. But the intriguing story is rife with tacked-on plot elements, like Lily's sister's clandestine lesbian affair. Worst of all, a syrupy score leaves this Songcatcher without any catchy songs. Screens tonight at 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. and tomorrow at 11:40 a.m. and 2 and 4:40 p.m.

-- Peg Aloi

Film Festival Feature Films

Shadow of the Vampire | Songcatcher | Venus Beauty Institute | What's Cooking? | The Broken Hearts Club | Envy | Goya in Bordeaux | Human Resources | Skipped Parts | Amargosa | Henry Hill | Relative Values | The Rising Place | The Contender | Pitch People | Roof to Roof | Four Dogs Playing Poker | Reckless Indifference | Requiem for a Dream | Shadow Magic | About Adam | Charming Billy | Enemies of Laughter | Into the Arms of Strangers | Running on the Sun | A Trial in Prague | Harry, He's Here to Help | A Man is Mostly Water | Seven Girlfriends

Also, Boston Film Festival short films

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