Songcatcher

Songcatcher showcases a gentler but no less determined feminism. The time is 1907, and Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer), a doctor of musicology, flees male-dominated academia for Appalachia, where her sister (Jane Adams) runs a school. Lily's cool manner is thawed by the mountain people, including Aidan Quinn as a widowed musician and a superb Pat Carroll as his grandma. But it's the music spun from English and Scottish folk ballads that holds Lily. Writer-director Maggie Greenwald glories in these sounds, notably those of singer Emmy Rossum, 13, in her acting debut. McTeer and the transporting music hold you in thrall.

From The Archives Issue 319: June 12, 1980