Picks and Pans Review: Hope
updated 10/20/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/20/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT
I'm from a town called Hope," says the 13-year-old heroine of this TV movie. No, she's not quoting Bill Clinton. Lilly Kate Burns (Jena Malone from Bastard Out of Carolina) and her southern town are fictional, and the story takes place in 1962. Yet Hope, which marks Goldie Hawn's directorial debut, does remind us of a typical Clinton speech: well-performed but overstuffed.
Lilly lives with her racist uncle Ray (J.T. Walsh) and his nervous wife, Emma (Christine Lahti). The girl's widowed mother, Maize (Mary Ellen Trainor), is a paralyzed stroke victim unable to speak. Lilly has heard that Maize made enemies by opposing segregation, but the family is silent on the details. When fire destroys a theater Ray owns, killing a boy trapped in the blacks-only balcony, it's up to Lilly to take a stand. Will she heed the urging of Jediah (Jeffrey D. Sams), a dynamic black minister, and testify that her uncle's negligence contributed to the tragedy? And will she uncover the truth of her mother's past? Lilly's life would be complicated even if Muriel (Catherine O'Hara), her dance teacher and confidante, weren't fooling around with Ray. Lilly would have a lot to figure out even if her friend Billy (Lee Norris) weren't dyeing his hair blond to look like Marilyn Monroe. The last thing this girl needs is the worry of nuclear war, but writer Kerry Kennedy throws in the Cuban Missile Crisis for global significance.