With Sandra Bullock's 50th birthday approaching we'll be looking at a few of her films. Here's Andrew Kendall on a little discussed '98 picture. - Ed.
Is it strange that when asked to celebrate Sandra Bullock’s birthday with a film from her oeuvre I immediately turned to the 1998 (ostensible) romantic drama Hope Floats? Despite the 80 million dollars at the box office the film was not quite a hit and critics were not impressed. Yet, whenever I’m asked to stump for a Bullock performance I tend to turn to Birdee Pruitt not necessarily as the “best” Bullock, or not even quintessential Bullock but my favourite Bullock.
The well-intentioned, sometimes – oftentimes – too treacly Hope Floats from writer Steven Rogers (who did a better job handling domestic dramas that same year with Stepmom) and direct Forrest Whitaker (who helmed his strongest film three years earlier with Waiting to Exhale) is a movie I feel warmer towards than I should. It gets a bit turgid in the middle falling prey to the lazy, but not necessarily inaccurate, complaint that it’s probably too long. But I can’t turn my back on the easy warmness of the film, mostly because of its able bodied cast – Harry Connick Jr being just the right amount of cocky and charming, Mae Whitman giving one of the best children performances of the nineties, and Gena Rowlands giving the type of performance that would net an aging actresses an Oscar nomination if this was 1940s (think Gladys Cooper in Now, Voyager). And, of course, Sandra Bullock – the lead performance the film lives and dies by. [More...]