Forest Whitaker's directorial efforts pay off, as he presents the viewer with a solid, though predictable, romance. The ever charming and coltish Sandra Bullock gives a strong performance as Birdie Pruitt, who has just found out on national television that her husband Bill is having an affair with her erstwhile best friend, Connie. Shocked, she is left to cope with this very public betrayal.
Birdie takes their daughter, Bernice, and leaves her husband, returning to her small town roots in Smithville, Texas, where her mom, an eccentric but lovely lady, wonderfully played by Gena Rowlands, still lives. As a teenager, Birdie had been a big fish in a small pond, a popular high school cheerleader who had ended up marrying the high school star quarterback, Queen of Corn three years running, and the envy of most of the young women with whom she grew up. She now finds herself returning home with her tail between her legs, her fairy tale life having taken a decided nosedive.
While home, some of those who remember her manage to get their digs in. One person, however, a sensitive and sensual good ol' boy, Justin Matisse, played to sexy perfection by Harry Connick, Jr., remembers her with fond affection, as he has loved her since they were in high school. He is there, just waiting to pick up the pieces.
on 14 September 2005
Birdee is invited on a talk show and then her best friend tells her that she's having an affair with her husband. After the show Birdee moves with her daughter, Bernice, back to her mother's house (which is situated in a small town). Her father is ill (we find out more about that later). Bernice's cousin, Travis, is also staying at there.
From very early on Justin tries to woo her (with a lot of unsubtle hints from her mother).
It's Birdee's story and follows her as she deals with the aftermath of her marriage collapsing. It's also about Birdee's relationships with her family (especially her mother and her daughter) and others.
What I loved about the film was the fact that it was character driven and the characters are 3 dimensional (at least the main ones are). The whole thing feels real and, therefore, is more touching. I had tears rolling down my cheeks watching it.
Of several of her movies that I have seen, this is perhaps her best effort. Less of the fluffy 30-something portrayed in some of her later movies, it may be that Forest Whitaker, in the unusual role as director, was far more restrained (or perhaps, constrained0 than those who followed in the Congeniality titles, for example.
Bullock cannot, and probably will never, be described as a great actress, but she can be a be a good one when at her best and she is certainly very good in this. In my view, Bullock's most successful role and perhaps far more believable than in Congeniality or its sequel, the presence of Harry Connick Jr is quite a good choice and provides a good foil. The young girl playing the daughter does a very good job, herself.
The movie has its deadpan side, especially in the scene where her young daughter pleads with the disinterested father/husband to be able to join him which is replete with pathos, it later moves to the lighter side when Bullock's character starts to enjoy her life when working for the photo shop.
A very good effort from all concerned.
on 24 February 2001
I first saw this film when it was shown at the Odean in Holloway Road, London. I was captivated from the first opening scenes and spent most of the film with a lump in my throat, determined not to cry, although I did shed a few silent tears (I drew the line at sobbing - public displays are not my thing!). The acting was superb and it had great atmospheric conotations. Harry Connick Jnr. took me by surprise as the romantic lead and I would just like to say that he has gone up in my estimations for sheer sex appeal alone! Brilliant film for a girlie night in! Box of tissues, bag of tortilla chips with dip, chocolates and some beer. Sorted!
on 26 October 2010
Sandra Bullock does a wonderful job as Birdee Pruitt, a woman who has the rug pulled out from under what she thinks is her idyllic existence as a homemaker on national television when her so-called best friend, luring Birdee on a Ricki Lake-type show for what she believes is a free makeover, announces she has been having an affair with Birdee's husband, Bill. An affair he has precious little remorse about.
Humiliated and reeling, Birdee takes their daughter, Bernice, from the home she and Bill shared in Chicago and goes back home to Smithville, Texas, where Birdee sheepishly reminds her daughter she was "Queen of Corn" for three years straight. In Texas, where she was once a big fish in a small pond, Birdee hopes to lick her wounds. Once home, she reacquaints herself with her mother, Ramona, a somewhat offbeat woman played with zest by Gena Rowlands. (A classic line from her when she asks Birdee why she was on TV and Birdee answers, "I just wanted a free makeover" and Ramona responds, "Well you got one!" was superbly delivered.) She also reconnects with her nephew, Travis, being raised by his grandmother while Birdee's sister tries to make it as an actress in California. Travis acts out his abandonment issues in an odd fashion, in costumes and as various characters, which Ramona handles with equanimity, likely since she is a bit off center herself.
In the midst of Birdee's humiliation and misery comes some matchmaking by her mother when old friend - and someone who crushed on Birdee from afar when in school - Justin Matisse drops by. Justin, played by Harry Connick, Jr, is a salt-of-the-earth type architect/construction worker. He clearly still has deep-seeded feelings for Birdee, feelings she is ill equipped to handle. Bernice does not handle the entrannce of Justin into their lives well, secretly hoping for her parents to reconcile.
What follows is a languid, slow-paced tale of Birdee wallowing in pity until Ramona sets her straight. When trying to find a job with almost no skills, some former classmates Birdee looked down upon waste no time in slyly rubbing her nose in it. Bullock plays a chagrined Birdee to perfection, making you feel for her and hoping she can get herself together. Along the way, a flirtation with Justin slowly turns into more, despite Birdee's continued antipathy about her marriage. Connick holds his own with Bullock, and I thought they had remarkable chemistry. One of the best scenes in the film is when Justin and Birdee dance. Connick and Bullock apparently trained with Patsy Swayze, and likely did her proud. They clearly looked like they were having a blast. The subsequent scene at the house Justin brings Birdee to, one he is building, is very romantic and gentle. Those adjectives sum up the relationship quite well.
Of course, no would-be romance would be complete without conflict, and, as mentioned, Bernice's resistance provides plenty. Mae Whitman as Bernice was compelling. She played a child of divorce achingly well, and even when acting out, you could see the hurt underneath it. The scene between her and Michael Paré was gut wrenching when Bill would not take his daughter home with him. Alas, the only flaw seems to be that Bill is shallowly characterized, the heartless guy who has no qualms about abandoning his family. But since it does happen, I can't be too harsh here.
Add in other issues, such as Birdee's father battling the heartbreak of Alzheimer's disease and Ramona's eventual fate (I won't spoil it), and I admit, it is not always a "light" movie. But the romance keeps it from being too maudlin, and the family dynamic is as real as it gets. This is not to say there is no fun. See the aforementioned dancing...as well as a sweet scene as three generations of women - Ramona, Birdee, and Bernice have a little fun with "I Can't Get Next To You."
Forest Whitaker does a credible job as director here. Overall, this movie seems to be about a woman's journey from long-time appendage to finding her own way, and it was handled deftly. Indeed, to be honest, it was about...hope. Hope for a new future, hope for a new life, and hope for new love with the one who always loved her.
The romantic in me really, truly loved it for those reasons. If you like the theme of "second chances" and romance with "the one who almost got away", I cannot recommend this movie enough. I think it is honestly among Sandra Bullock's best movies and deserved *much* more success and respect than it received!
on 9 August 2015
Forest Whitaker's directorial debut - either he is the world's greatest hypnotist or else he has damning secret files on everyone involved in the film, as I can't see any other reason for this movie ever being made.
The storyline is so obvious I started making guesses about what would happen about 10 minutes in - and was spot on with all of them (except, I admit, the fate of the dog, which I got wrong - no spoilers!). Every character was a cliche, every scene written by numbers. Sandra Bullock is beautiful, no doubt, and Harry Connick Jnr a good looking chap, but she came across as annoying and he just felt, well, creepy.
The direction is wooden and dull - every scene with a panning shot from trees to ground, rooftop to ground, top of school to ground, as though that was Whitaker's only spot of creativity.
The score was appalling too, with awful cover versions of usually quite random songs shoehorned into the clunky story.
It's long too at nearly two hours - the basic story was an hour, hour and a half, but still the characters felt undeveloped and shallow, so what was FW doing with all that time? Oh, yes - panning shots.
Please, I beg you, don't waste your time - this is charmless, soulless and truly truly awful.
I get to choose the next film, Wife.
Forest Whitaker's directorial efforts pay off, as he presents the viewer with a solid, though predictable, romance. The ever charming and coltish Sandra Bullock gives a strong performance as Birdie Pruitt, who has just found out on national television that her husband, Bill, is having an affair with her best friend, Connie. Shocked, she is left to cope with this very public betrayal.
Birdie takes their daughter, Bernice, and leaves her husband, returning to her small town roots in Smithville, Texas, where her mom, an eccentric but lovely lady, wonderfully played by Gena Rowlands, still lives. As a teenager, Birdie had been a big fish in a small pond, a popular high school cheerleader, who had ended up marrying the high school quarterback, Queen of Corn three years running, and the envy of most of the young women with whom she grew up. She now finds herself returning home with her tail between her legs, her fairy tale life having taken a nosedive.
While home, some of those who remember her manage to get their digs in. One person, however, a sensitive and sensual good ol' boy, Justin Matisse, played to sexy perfection by Harry Connick, Jr., remembers her with fond affection, as he has loved her since high school. He is just there, waiting to pick up the pieces.
This is a very enjoyable movie, with strong performances by the entire cast.
For some reason I remember putting this 1998 love-story/rom-com on a list as one to watch - but re-viewing it on a 2014 BLU RAY has been a painful experience instead of a fond memory renewed. Directed by the respected actor Forest Whittaker - it's 'ah schucks' downhome portrayal of small town American values hasn't dated at all well. "Hope Floats" irritates more than it pleases.
As the film opens - the still beautiful Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) appears on a crass daytime expose show believing she's there to get a free makeover. Only as she unveils her blindfold - she finds her best friend (Rosanna Arquette as Connie) is sat on the couch beside her with news to tell of a personal nature. She's been sleeping with Birdie's husband for a year (he then appears and confirms it for all the world to gloat in her abject and real humiliation). The funny Kathy Najimy - the host of The Toni Post Show - acts all concerned and shocked as the crowd hisses and boos. The ex Prom Queen who married the Quarter Back got a make over all right - just not the one she was expecting...
Birdie is soon taking her daughter Bernice (Mae Whitman) and their broken lives back home to the safety of Mom (Gena Rowlands) in small town, Smithfield in Texas. There she meets a man who held a candle for her years back and still does - Harry Connick Jr as Justin - a carpenter Neanderthal who wears jeans and drives a pick-up and says goofy stuff and looks hunky. And on it goes to mellowing to the klutz like any cityized Prom Queen would...
Quite apart from the naff story - for me the real problem is the actual picture quality. As the credits roll and the cast names appear in immaculate print - there's still a haze over every single frame - a sort of dull pallor that is I suspect to do with making our Sandra look younger by using filters. The best way to describe it is that there's no real definition - no sparkle at all - it's very clean but staggeringly dull - and like the print has been lifted off a poor quality copy.
The BLU RAY is an All Regions issue (A, B and C) so will play on all machines everywhere. AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, French 2.0 Dolby Surround. Subtitles are Spanish and English for the Hard Of Hearing. There are no Extras.
As Birdie drives back into town - she tells her daughter "Momma used to know how to shine..." I wish I could say the same for "Hope Floats".
Even as a long-time fan of Sandra Bullock (see reviews for "The Blind Side", "The Heat", "The Lake House" and "Crash") - I'd say rent this reissue first before you buy on BLU RAY. Dull, dull, dull...
on 21 June 2015
Predictable feel-good film plot, but perfect for a Sunday afternoon on the sofa with popcorn and curtains pulled shut. Sandra Bullock is a strong lead as a former small town beauty queen, who sees her cosy life as a trophy wife crumble and has ro move back to tiny Texan town with her ma. Old flame is on a mission to woo her, while her daughter is struggling to understand her parents' sudden separation. This film is not really Oscar material, but is good enough to pull a few if not all the heartfelt stops.
on 28 February 2013
I have always liked this film and wanted to get it on DVD after losing my video tape on moving house. Lovely love story where a happy ending comes out of a tragic beginning. Sandra Bullock as usual acts very well in this, portraying as she does a lost soul after her husband dumps her on prime time TV. A mention should be made of her daughter in this too who plays her part of a betrayed daughter by her dad very well when he refuses to take her with him when he leaves and it is difficult at times to see how Bullock in her role will drag herself out of the grief and depression she finds herself in following the split from her husband. Harry Connick Jr. & Gena Rowlands too were very good in their parts. A film worth watching a few times.