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Hope Floats

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Hope Floats

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr.
Director: Forest Whitaker
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 114 Minutes
Release Date: May 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Gena Rowlands, Mae Whitman, Michael Pare, Cameron Finley, Kathy Najimy, Bill Cobbs, Connie Ray, Rosanna Arquette

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

Imagine, if you will, the embarrassment of participating in a tabloid t.v. talk show, believing you are going to get a free makeover and instead your best friend reveals that that she is having an affair with your husband. Shocking? Yes, of course. Or is it? Welcome to life in the 90's. We have been trained through the tabloid media (and in some cases, the mainstream media) in our society whether its print, t.v., radio, Internet access, etc., to be less shocked at the outrageous than at any other time this century; to accept the decadent behaviour of others and laugh it off as if it were nothing. Yet some are still shocked by what happens to them in life.

In 'Hope Floats', Sandra Bullock stars as an average, everyday person who gets duped by the situation described in the opening paragraph. She then leaves Chicago and travels to her hometown of Smithville, Texas, and moves back in with her mother (Gena Rowlands). She brings her daughter with her (Mae Whitman). Her little girl is about 8 and is at that very impressionable age where observations can direct the course of her life and disappointment can be difficult to deal with. She begins to re-unite with members of the community with whom she went to high school and gets a job working in a photo shop. Bullock was the "corn queen" in her youth in the small town, a type of beauty or prom queen if you will who still looks very good. One of the people that she meets is an old flame (Harry Connick Jr.) and while she isn't over the loss of her husband, a little spark of romantic history between her and Connick is visible.

In the first hour of the film, most of the best lines, written by Steven Rogers, are delivered by the cast and while all the elements in the film are obvious and predictable, I never get tired of watching ordinary people living ordinary lives and I refuse to give in to the cynicism of criticizing a film like this because of simple elements and there are some very clever moments in 'Hope Floats' where dialogue floats like spice and has a sugar coated core.

Directed Forest Whitaker has used his camera quite eloquently to capture the hum drum (that's meant as a compliment) and likable elements of small town life and guides his cast through the realities of life with traditional elements of characterization developed in relating to the everyday problems, joys and surprises of life's unpredictable path.

The film's strongest moments are when Gena Rowlands is on screen. An actress of vast experience and motherly charm in this film, she is the rock of stability for her daughter and grand daughter and is the best member of the cast. The most under written member of the cast is Harry Connick Jr. His character isn't used to its full potential and this is a disappointment. At one point over dinner, Bullock refers to him using her husband's name and this drew gasps of shock from some female members of the audience with whom I viewed this film.

'Hope Floats' is a wonderful date movie, produced in part by Sandra Bullock and despite its unoriginal story and overall presentation, I can't disregard a movie that makes me feel good because that would be a sin.

Copyright 1998 Walter Frith

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