Film Review: Hope Springs (2003)

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“Special relationship” between UK and USA reflected itself on British film makers applying the concept of “cool Britannia” on the most British part of the former colonies. At least this is impression audience might get after watching Hope Springs, 2003 romantic comedy written and directed by Mark Herman.

The film is based on New Cardiff, novel by Charles Webb, American author best known for giving literary source for 1967 Hollywood Boomer classic The Graduate. The protagonist, played by Colin Firth, is Colin Ware, English artist who has just been left by his long time girlfriend Vera Edwards (played by Minnie Driver). Feeling devastated, he decides to improve his mood and life by radical change of scenery and, acting on impulse, decides to settle into small town of Hope in US state of Vermont. This proves to be right the choice, because, despite acting strangely, an English newcomer is enthusiastically embraced by New England town’s locals, which includes attractive hotel manager Joanie (played by Heather Graham) who quickly falls in love and starts romantic relationship with Colin. Their happiness in idyllic small town, however, gets threatened with an arrival of Vera who had second thoughts bout Colin and appears determined to win him back by any means necessary.

Hope Springs is somewhat unusual film that shows that British film makers are allowed to treat small town America with sympathies “politically correct” mainstream Hollywood isn’t allowed to. But, in its essence, it is a simple romantic comedy where the “exotic” setting only hides annoying cliches of the genre and even the charm of Colin Firth or talents of Heather Graham can’t compensate for the cardboard nature of the characters, leaving Mary Steenburgen to leave much better impression in one of the supporting roles. And another issue with Herman’s film is that the audience, even those accustomed to fairytale nature of modern romantic comedies, can’t fail to notice plot developments being artificial, like Vera’s reappearance in the latter stages of the film, which serves no purpose other than artificially expand the running time. Vancouver locations, that stand in for New England, are attractive but not reason enough for audience to anybody but most curious viewers subject themselves to Hope Springs.

RATING: 3/10 (+)


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