Sandra Bullock Lesson #7

This week we learn lessons from Hope Floats, or “How not to end a marriage”.

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Birdee (almost as good as when Sandra was ‘Sidalee’) goes on a talk show, expecting a free make-over. But, in reality, her best friend reveals that she’s been having an affair with Birdee’s husband. Yay for talk shows! The rest of the film follows Birdee around as she tries to come to grips with her marriage ending and starting life over back in her home town with her daughter.

What did I learn?

1) Taxidermy is disturbing
2) Making Mae Whitman cry is a dickhead thing to do
3) Being talented and having no ambition is only ok in the South.

I didn’t like this film. On the surface, it’s just a formulaic, “Bad things happen to girls in the big city, they move back home and find themselves and a man” film. But, there were some subtleties that creeped me out in this film.

For one thing, there is a HUGE focus on how Birdee looks. How she looks like shit when she’s sad and how she used to be so ‘pleasing’ and how she’d just feel better if she put make up on. The woman was humiliated on national television and her marriage is ending; let her feel like shit! Let her look like shit! (Which she didn’t, which made it so much more irritating that everyone kept saying she did).

Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr) is an old flame who starts making moves on her about 0.5 seconds after she moves home. He won’t take no for an answer, and this is where it gets damn creepy. She keeps saying ‘no’ to dates and ‘no’ to dinner and he keeps coming along and touching her and making moves. She’s so incredibly passive during all of this, but her body language is not positive and so it felt really uncomfortable watching it. Then he gets pissed to hell that she accidentally calls him Bill (her ex-husband’s name) and storms out saying he won’t wait. Her 10+ year relationship just ended, WTF dude?

The one redeeming part of this film is the daughter and cousin (both about 6 or 7 years old). They are adorable and realistic and Mae Whitman (of Avatar the Last Airbender Katara fame) does the most amazing crying. You don’t often see a proper howling/crying and she is just like 6 year olds I’ve seen crying. It made me want to punch the dad for making her cry.

As for the lesson of having no ambition, the whole ‘mystery’ behind Justin is that he’s a talented architect, had a job in California, but “squeezing all the money out of a project” ruined it for him, so he moved back home and now builds his own house and pays for it by doing odd carpentry jobs and painting. He didn’t need to move back to the South! California welcomes talented but ambition-less people. I think he really moved back so he could wear cowboy hats. That’s a tougher sell in California.

There’s this weird sub-plot where Birdee is shown as being a “good photographer” and ends up working in a 1 hour photo store. It was like it was supposed to be her growing as a person, but she doesn’t. She just ends up working the counter and nothing comes of her “talent” (which seems to be wandering around with an old camera and never taking a blurry photo.)

Comparatively, I recently watched Where The Heart Is (Natalie Portman) which has a very similar plot to this film, but is done infinitely better. Natalie’s character follows through with the photography and makes a career of it, the guy in the film is all about accommodating her and dealing with her past, rather than riding roughshod over it.

Hope Floats ends with a Bryan Adams song, which seems to be an indicator of films I don’t like. I think maybe I should fast forward to the credits and see if he does a song before watching a film.

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