City of Hope

John Sayles' ambitious, wide-ranging study of corruption and community in a small Eastern city has as many parallel plots and characters as Hill Street Blues, while at the same time having a richness of theme and specificity of vision more common to serious cinema.

With:
Vincent Spano Joe Morton Tony LoBianco Anthony John Denison Barbara Williams John Sayles

John Sayles’ ambitious, wide-ranging study of corruption and community in a small Eastern city has as many parallel plots and characters as Hill Street Blues, while at the same time having a richness of theme and specificity of vision more common to serious cinema.

Picture hinges on the oppposite directions of two characters: Nick (Vincent Spano), disillusioned son of a well-connected builder, who has easy access to the system but only wants out of it, and Wynn (Joe Morton), a young black city councilman who’s determined to work within the system.

Nick soon gets involved in a robbery to get money to pay off his gambling debts. Meanwhile he’s starting a romance with an old high school classmate Angela (Barbara Williams), which draws the wrath of her mad-dog ex-husband and cop (Anthony John Denison). Then a racial crisis erupts when two black kids attack a white college teacher.

For much of the film, the restlessness of focus seems a liability. But when the camera stops long enough to put two characters together one-on-one, dialog and emotional connection emerge.

City of Hope

Production: Esperanza. Director John Sayles; Producer Sarah Green, Maggie Renzi; Screenplay John Sayles; Camera Robert Richardson; Editor John Sayles; Music Mason Daring;; Art Director Dan Bishop, Dianna Freas

Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 129 MIN.

With: Vincent Spano Joe Morton Tony LoBianco Anthony John Denison Barbara Williams John Sayles

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