Hope Floats

on May 29, 1998 by Lisa Osborne
When Birdee Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) learns on national TV that her best friend is having an affair with her husband, Bill (Michael Pare), her life, as she knows it, falls apart. So, after shredding Bill's shirts and smashing all the windows in their house, and with daughter Bernice (Mae Whitman) in tow, she heads home to mom and the sleepy town of Smithville, Texas. There she rebuilds not only her self-esteem but also the emotional ties to her parents Ramona (Gena Rowlands) and Harry (James N. Harrell). And whenever she gets down, in steps the local hunk Justin Matisse (Harry Connick, Jr.) bringing her as much TLC as she can handle.
   Gena Rowlands paints a lovely portrait of Ramona, Birdee's slightly eccentric mother who holds the family together with her warmth and humor. Harry Connick Jr. creates in Justin a charismatic, would-be suitor. But it would have been interesting to learn more about his early career and obvious skills as an architect. Cameron Finley is simply super as Birdee's nephew Travis who amuses himself and his grandmother by dressing up as different animals. His is a very natural performance.
   Birdee' s daughter, however, is very wooden. This is partly the fault of the script which endows her with no childish intuition or empathy. Bernice is not very likeable, so there are few touching scenes between parent and child. The script also leaves Birdee and Bernice wallowing in self pity far too long, ruining the momentum in the second half of the movie and causing hope to sink. Starring Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands, Cameron Finley and Mae Whitman. Directed by Forest Whitaker. Written by Steven Rogers. Produced by Lynda Obst. A Fox release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements. Running time: 110 min.
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