' ' Cinema Romantico: Hope Springs Eternal

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Hope Springs Eternal

The casts of Wes Anderson movies are typically so stacked that you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone has already been in one. And yet, Hope Davis, ironically given that this blog once argued she should literally be in everything, has never been in a Wes Anderson movie. And though I’m someone who might well have argued Wes’s “The French Dispatch” was the best movie of 2021, meaning I was aware of the existence of Anderson’s forthcoming “Asteroid City,” it had somehow escaped me that Hope Davis was in “Asteroid City” until I saw the trailer. I confess, I missed most of the trailer because every time she appeared, it took my breath away.

Davis is fifty-nine, after all, meaning she is considered a spinster in Tinseltown terms, well past The Hollywood Age Cutoff Line for women, mostly relegated to television, essentially allowed to appear in movies if she is playing someone’s mother, like “Captain America: Civil War.” Indeed, a 2014 study indicated that the careers of women in Hollywood peak at age 34. Sure enough, the Hope Davis-starring Cinema Romantico canon rom com “Next Stop Wonderland” was released in 1998 when Davis, born in 1964, was 34. I’ll be God damned.

Now Davis might seem outside the Wes Anderson wheelhouse given that his movies tend to call for fussiness – exactness – in his performers and Davis’s preeminent asset has often been a naturalistic quality, the frazzled eye of the station-wagon storm in the 1996 indie epic “The Daytrippers,” the genuine loving exasperation she evinces beneath that wig in “American Splendor,” or functioning as the true heart and soul of “About Schmidt,” her moving life exhaustion the kitchen-sink counter to all the stylized acting going on around her. But I mean, c’mon, man, she made her name in the 90s indie scene and you couldn’t hack it in the 90s indie scene if you couldn’t be credibly, nay, charismatically witheringly dry. And in the “Asteroid City” trailer, Davis’s gift for deadpan is on full display, innately illustrating my argument that she should be in everything because even though she’s never been in a Wes Anderson coffeehouse and is surrounded by Wes Anderson regulars she fits right in like she’s been there the whole time.   

The man who reviews a trailer is the man who’s lost his mind but, hey, what do I sound like if not a man who’s lost his mind? And when I saw Hope Davis in the “Asteroid City” trailer, I saw her second onscreen credit, 33 years ago, the nameless French Ticket Agent in “Home Alone” filtered through the French New Wave, just with an American accent, glorious, resplendent ennui. 

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