Skip to content

City of Hope (1991)

May 6, 2015

cityThis movie is made up of a collection of scenes, with a big cast of characters walking in and out. The movie is set in middle sized city run by corrupt officials. Some of the characters are trying to fight the corruption, but its hard to fight City Hall. Because of the things going on behind closed doors, some people get mixed up in things they don’t want to do.

There are four or five major story lines running through the movie, but the main one involves an old apartment building that stands in the way of a major re-development project that a lot of people stand to make money from.

In his four star review Roger Ebert said :

Sayles’ method of telling the story of this city, and the people trapped there, is audacious. He fills his canvas with many characters – I didn’t count, but I’m told there are 36 – and follows them through their days and nights, as they run into one another, make deals, tell lies, seek happiness, and find mostly compromise and disappointment.

There are idealists in this city, but we watch as their idealism is shattered, as they learn the ways of clout and bribery, arson and perjury.

He finished his review saying :

“City of Hope” is a powerful film, and an angry one. It is impossible not to find echoes of its despair on the front pages every day. It asks a hard question: Is it possible for a good person to prevail in a corrupt system, just simply because right is on his side? The answer, in the short run, is that power is stronger than right. The notion of a long run, of course, is all that keeps hope alive.

The movie is reminiscent of a Robert Altman movie, with it’s cast of characters, and somehow, like Altman, John Sayles makes it all come together and work.

A great and truthful movie. It’s really one of those little know gems that needs to be seen by a lot more people. Everyone in the city is hoping for something. The corrupt politicians want more graft, the reformer wants reforms, the poor people just want a decent life. Everyone in the City of Hope has dreams and aspirations, but no one seems to get what they really want.