Devastated by being dumped by his fiancee (Minnie Driver), Colin Firth flees to OldeEngland for New, attracted by the refuge offered by the name of the town of Hope. There hemeets wild child of nature Heather Graham, and begins to fall in love. Re-enter Minnie Driver,and a revelation that complicates things considerably. How will the triangle be resolved?
And do you care? Firth doesn’t stretch much, filtering the stiff befuddlement of his Mr.Darcy variations from < ...>Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’ Diary through big-eyed grief (which should just plain melt the stalwart members of his fan club). Driver does thecool Brit sophisto, while Graham is supposed, I think, to be wacky and endearing, but what withchugging a bottle of brandy, driving wild and throwing off her clothes, comes across much morelike Courtney Love. The viewer is thus left thinking not “awwww, ain’t she cute?” but “RUNAWAY!” The tone is also divided against itself, and dry, low-key slapstick doesn’t work. Firth’sreactions to jet lag, for instance, and exaggerated, and because his context isn’t zany, he registersnot as funny but as a pathetic whiner. That this film is the work of director Mark (LittleVoice) Herman is most disappointing.
The sound matches one half of the film’s split tone: the low key half. Thus, though there issome rear-speaker presence and there are some surround effects, these last are relatively rare.This isn’t really a problem, since the film is quiet and doesn’t provide a great many opportunitiesfor deploying the sound design. The sound is crisp and undistorted, though, except for thefeaturette. There the buzz is so awful that sitting through the feature is an endurance test.
The colours are very attractive, making the most of Vancouver-pretending-to-be-New-England. Plenty of lush greens are around, and the burning orange of the opening nicely capturesFirth’s exhaustion. There is no visible grain or edge enhancement. All in all, the 2.35:1anamorphic widescreen picture is a handsome piece of work.
Nothing here for Hope Springs itself except a standard-issue featurette, with thesound problems noted above. There is a small handful of trailers, and the menu is scored.
Strictly for hardcore Firth Followers only. Most other will be rendered annoyed, sleepy, orboth.
Special Features List
- Making-of Featurette