Down from the Mountain and Back Again

O Brother's successful revival of American Roots music - bluegrass, coal miner country, kentucky ballads, etc - generated a lot of record sales. This movie, released during the same year, has a similar (probably better) soundtrack, but the movie comes up a little short.

We follow the career and life of Janet McTeer (a long career without many breakthrough moments), a university professor who goes to see her sister, a teacher, (Jane Adams - also, a varied career) in the hills of Kentucky. The school's caretakers include an orphan girl with a gifted voice. McTeer's character, disillusioned from the prejudices of the university, rejuvenates her love for music and passion for study. Her new found goal is to document the ballads of the hills.

Stripped of the interesting soundtrack and lush sceenery, this movie has been done before - educated person travels back through their past to a town of simple folk where she reluctantly understands the beauty and intelligence of the people by finding rommance in local ruffian (Aidan Quinn). Think a bluegrass version of "Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" or "The Matchmaker".

Not quite enough detail to pull off a documentary and not quite enough drama to be interesting, this movie doesn't really find it's feet. I watched it in three different sittings on DVD because I found myself getting bored. Again, there is a good soundtrack, but it doesn't save the movie.

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