Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hope Springs (2003)

The only reason to seek out Hope Springs (2003) would be to have a complete Colin Firth film festival. Or, perhaps, if you wanted to induce nightmares with the truly scary Minnie Driver. It's a romantic comedy that's not very funny, except for some little bits by Mary Steenburgen as the transplanted New Yorker innkeeper who's besotted with her homely husband. The romance is not very believable either.

Colin Firth plays a British artist who's been dumped by his fiance -- he's received an invitation to her wedding to another man. He flies to Boston and in the airport corridor sees a poster for a town called Hope, so of course he takes a very long bus trip to get there. (Since Hope appears to be in either Vermont, New Hampshire or western Maine, this is pretty silly; the bus trip wouldn't be that long.) The locals are nosy busybodies and the innkeeper sends nurse Heather Graham to help him heal from his romantic disappointment. They fall in love in a jerky series of vignettes of such activities as dancing with the old people at the nursing home where she works. Then the old fiance, Minnie Driver, appears, having tracked Colin down, and tells him it was all a joke, the invitation was a fake, just to get him to set a date. Oh, I could go on and on, but the plot just gets sillier.

Sometimes a film like this is slightly redeemed by the scenery. The scenes of (let's call it Vermont) were pretty, but the mythical town of Hope must rejoice in the longest peak foliage season anywhere. When Firth arrives in town, beautiful autumn leaves are swirling around; all through the romance, they continue; and at the end of the film, although enough events have taken place to take up several months, the bright autumn leaves are still on the trees. It just doesn't work that way in real life.

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