Her lusty-old-lady Isadora Duncan dance is hard to beat. She can snap, glower, and beam with more electricity in her handsomely creased face than a dozen younger, smoother actresses can harness as a team. But Vanessa Redgrave can't save A Rumor of Angels from the truth that this cloying, voices-from-the-other-side story is hell. Redgrave plays a flinty, eccentric New Englander who only seems forbidding: She turns out to be an empathetic, Mozart-loving free spirit who helps an angry, sad 12-year-old boy (''The Patriot'''s Trevor Morgan) mourn the car-crash death of his mother by showing him that the dead can still communicate, provided one learns the right Morse code. (Her son, who died in Vietnam in 1974, apparently still keeps in touch.)
As the boy's workaholic father and resented stepmother, Ray Liotta and Catherine McCormack try but give up early. And when even Redgrave exhausts herself, director Peter O'Fallon fires his biggest gun: a blast of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, truly heavenly music wasted on a handful of dust.