Director: Maggie Greenwald
In Maggie Greenwald’s sumptuously photographed period piece, Janet McTeer plays forward-thinking musicologist, Dr. Lily Penleric who, as the film begins, is denied a greater academic promotion due to her gender. Drawn by her love of music as well as her desire to leave the cruel city and her married lover, Penleric stays with her sister in the Appalachian Mountains. Once in her new surrounds, she discovers wondrous folk songs and love ballads passed down from generations dating back to the early settlers from Ireland and Scotland that she’s determined to document scientifically and publish as a songbook. While modern day feminist themes abound, Greenwald’s film is successful because, along with the magical beauty of the setting and music, her philosophies shine through and add a layer of utopia to the film. While Greenwald and the viewers know very well that it isn’t historically accurate, like Marleen Gorris's Antonia’s Line, Greenwald’s film is an individualized statement and a way of looking back to examine the past while making us examine the present all at the same time. It worked for me although admittedly it won’t be the same for those longing for a more traditional period piece.