Marcy Graving is a divorcee with two childrn who reports county news, announces community activities, and profiles people and places on her weekly radio program broadcast from Rachel River, Minnesota. Mary decides to do a story on Svea, a local recluse who died alone on her farm. Rumors are afoot that a fortune may be hidden on the property. Momo, a develomentally disabled young man, hovers around the farm but doesn' t speak about his relationship with Svea. Mary learns more about her from her nephew Marlyn who is the town's deputy sheriff; from Jack Canon, the soft-spoken undertaker; and from Harriett, an elderly woman whose husband is dying in a nursing home.
Rachel River admirably conveys the slow rounds of life in this chilly Scandinavian community where restraint is the order of the day. The well-crafted and subtle screenplay by Judith Guest, author of Ordinary People, is based on several stories by Minnesota author Carol Bly. Director Sandy Smolen draws out fine ensemble performances from Pamela Reed, Craig T. Nelson, James Olsen, and Viveca Lindfors. Rachel River is a magical movie about the emotional education of adults in a world of mysteries which have no name and of little things that people are reluctant to talk about, such as vague longings, roving fears, and unfulfilled dreams.