Hope Springs

**1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Eternal is not the word for it. Forgettable, maybe.

Heather Graham is the problem (again), not for the obvious reason - she can't act - but for taking on a role that has no beginning. Who is Mandy, for heaven's sake? An alcoholic, a counsellor, a care assistant, a nymphomaniac or a dumb blonde?

She may be all of these, or none. Graham has the ability to slip into stereotypes with the ease of a fashion model. Colin Firth is different. He is absolutely, irrevocably, bet-the-farm-on-it Colin. He is not Darcy; he is not Paul from Fever Pitch; he is not Bridget Jones's bit of smart. He is a depressed portraitist from South Kensington, who has come to America to forget his ex-fiance, the manipulative queen of heartbreak, Vera (Minnie Driver).

He chooses Hope, Vermont, because of the name. It is autumn and every tree looks a picture. But he's not interested in landscapes. He wants to draw faces. And then he meets Mandy, who is simple in a generous, uncluttery way and it feels like dawn over the prairies, so clear he can see forever.

As a film about running away from love and finding a replacement somewhere else, it feels damp in all the wrong places. Only Firth's performance gives it air. The plot lacks surprise and the humour has been planted in advance.

Writer/director Mark Herman's first film was Blame It On The Bellboy, an embarrassment with Dudley Moore. His second, Brassed Off, was a gem. Hope Springs is neither Cringeability Brown, nor the jewel in the crown. It's gently predictable.

Picture postcard small town America, where the locals are nosey but nice is borrowed from Frank Capra movies and probably never existed, even in George W's dreams.

Romantic comedy proves ever more elusive. You can't kill a cat with a rabbit. Herman tries, but it ends in a stew.

Reviewed on: 08 May 2003
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Hope Springs packshot
Colin Firth runs away from Minnie Driver and finds Heather Graham in Vermont
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Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman, based on the novel, New Cardiff, by Charles Webb

Starring: Colin Firth, Heather Graham, Minnie Driver, Mary Steenburgen, Frank Collinson, Oliver Platt

Year: 2003

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK

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