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Hope Springs (12A)



Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating: Two

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 him.

But just as things begin to look up ex-fiancee Vera (Minnie Driver) appears, forcing Ware to choose between his future hopes and his past.

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.


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