Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of featurette.
STARRING Colin Firth, Hope Springs is a light romantic tale of
moving on after a failed relationship, but this gentle film dances
dangerously towards frivolity.
Based on the book, New Cardiff, by Charles Webb, Hope is a small
town in America which Colin Ware (Firth) chooses at random because
of its positive name.
Having just discovered his fiancee is set to marry someone else,
Ware jumps on a plane without telling anyone and goes there.
Jet-lagged, he checks into Hope's motel, run by Joanie (Mary
Steenburgen) and Fisher (Frank Collison), with the intention of
immersing himself in his work as a portrait artist to take his
mind off his grief.
But Joanie soon learns of his broken heart and sets about doing
some matchmaking with local nurse, Mandy (Heather Graham).
Mandy introduces him to the local characters of Hope, so that
he can draw them for his new exhibition and sets about seducing
But just as things begin to look up ex-fiancee Vera (Minnie Driver)
appears, forcing Ware to choose between his future hopes and his
Written by Charles Webb, who also penned The Graduate, this feels
more like the undergraduate, and without a memorable soundtrack.
Director, Mark Herman (Brassed Off and Little Voice), adapted
the screenplay and, although there are some corny moments, these
are willingly overlooked, while the diversity of the two cultures,
British and American, is humorously explored.
What really holds the film together, however, are the performances,
which, without exception, are played with great sensitivity.
Firth plays with affection an angst ridden Englishman in America.
Much of the actor's appeal lies in his vulnerability, making roles
like this ideal.
He also manages to give the impression that something is missing,
and (for all the ladies out there), it just might be you!
Graham, as the sweet smalltown girl, provides an interesting
contrast to Driver's confident, but bitchy Brit, serving to provide
an entertaining if anticipated triangle.
There is a nice running gag with Driver trying to find somewhere
in America to smoke.
Support players, Steenburgen and Collison, are also excellent,
as is Oliver Platt, as Hope's flamboyant Mayor.
There is a line in the film when Firth's character is asked what
he is doing? 'Building a memory', is the reply.
I think that this is a lovely line but not, in the case of this
movie, a long lasting one.