HOPE plays out an embarrassingly bad civil rights drama against the backdrop of some truly delightful southern eccentrics led by Christine Lahti as a bible toting and loving but imbalanced woman taking care of her stricken wheelchair bound sister and her sister's strong willed teenage daughter. The daughter, Lily Kate Burns, spends her time begging for dance scholarships that will get her out of town based on delusions about what she had learned from a former rockette who lives nearby. Her partner is a pixyish boy with dyed hair who's Mother gave him the last name of October because she didn't know who the Father was and that was the month he was born.
Both are intelligent kids bored by school and determined to get out of their burned out town. The film takes place during the Cuban missile crisis, with frequent school drills about bomb safety. As Lily notes, the Russians wouldn't think of bombing their town because it looks like it had already been destroyed. When she quizzes Billy about whether or not they are normal, he stares at her in surprise and asks: "Who wants to be normal?" Their teacher, who spends most of her time drunk when she isn't bedding the girl's uncle, tries to gently tell Lilly that she wasn't going to get any scholarship but it doesn't keep the kids from whooping it up or this film from being a lot of fun even with the heavy-handed racial story running in the background. This is a fun movie with a little meat on its bones in the way of interesting characters and situations with a good feel for the environment portrayed.
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