Hope Springs (2003) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Colin Firth, Heather Graham, Minnie Driver, Oliver Platt, Mary Steenburgen, Frank Collison
Director: Mark Herman
Screenplay: Mark Herman (based on the novel, "New Cardiff" by Charles Webb)
Review published April 19, 2003
Hope Springs is yet another romantic comedy where the main character ends up going to a small town full of eccentric people, first feeling like a fish out of water, then falling in love with all its quirky charms. Based on the novel, "New Cardiff" by Charles Webb, author of "The Graduate," as penned by writer/director Mark Herman (Brassed Off), there is a concerted effort to try to be endearing through incessant offbeat antics. It wears thin rather quick, as there's little point to the story except as a quaint diversion, with little wit or intelligence to make this stay in small town life worthwhile.
Colin Firth (The Importance of Being Earnest, Londinium) plays Colin Ware, a jilted English artist who decides to lose himself in a small town called Hope in Vermont in order to draw portraits of the men and women there, and forget being dumped by his fiancée, Vera (Driver, Owning Mahowny). While there, he befriends a local girl named Mandy (Graham, The Guru), a bit of an oddball, though not without her charms, as she likes to hop in the sack with him at every available opportunity. However, just as soon as Colin starts to forget Vera, she re-enters his life and wants him back, causing a tug-of-war for his affection that may end up disastrous for all of them.
To appreciate Hope Springs in any form or fashion, it probably helps to be big fans of any of the three main players, who all deliver the kind of performances you expect and come to like from them. Colin Firth is the hapless romantic, Driver the saucy aggressive, and Graham the off-center, geek-girl, and all three of them are in various states of undress throughout the movie, although no actual nudity is shown.
Although there is an occasional funny moment, there's just so little substance in Hope Springs, that it renders itself as too inconsequential to make an impression by the end. There's nothing but a bunch of kooky characters interacting, talking shallow ideas about love, intermingled with long musical interludes that try to take the place of actual romantic developments. Silly, ersatz romance of the most forgettable variety.
©2003 Vince Leo