'Hope Springs Eternal': Film Review

Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
The appealing Mia Rose Frampton makes it work.

A teenage girl whose cancer goes into remission tries to keep the news a secret from her friends in this dramedy.

See enough movies and you'll be convinced that every teenage girl in America keeps a video diary. That's the impression one gets, at least, after seeing the new dramedy arriving on the heels of Eighth Grade. Both films revolve around female adolescents dealing with personal crises by pouring out their hearts to their cellphone cameras. But Hope Springs Eternal has a more easily defined high-concept premise that should appeal to its target teen audience.

Mia Rose Frampton (daughter of famed musician Peter), plays the central role in the punningly titled film. Hope has a singular identity at her high school; she's known as "Cancer Girl" because of her medical condition that has been deemed fatal. Ironically, the disease has its advantages for her. She's the object of sympathy among her classmates, she has a good excuse for not applying herself too hard to her studies and she's even snagged a hunky Australian boyfriend (Beau Brooks) whom she met on a Make-a-Wish trip.

"You're like the girl from The Fault in Our Stars, but real," one of Hope's classmates gushes.

Hope doesn't suffer from any lack of support from her tireless mother (Beth Lacke), who always keeps plenty of hand sanitizer on hand; her best friend Seth (Stony Blyden), who is wise for his years; her fellow chemo patient Sarah (Juliette Angelo), who's in even worse shape than her; and a school guidance counselor (Pei Vahdat), who urges her to work harder lest she flunk out.

It's not wholly surprising, then, that Hope actually finds herself conflicted when informed that her cancer has gone into remission. The news is great, sure, but she's reluctant to give up the perks. When her mother writes a series of thank-you notes to everyone at the school who has been of help, Hope secretly intercepts them and keeps the information from all of her friends and classmates. Complications ensue, especially when the truth inevitably leaks out.

The film, directed by Jack C. Newell and scripted by Stephanie Mickus, feels like it was made for television. It even has a strikingly brief running time, 78 minutes, and that includes a lengthy musical number during the end credits (performed by the girl group Cimorelli, all six members of whom have minor roles in the film). But it nonetheless has a certain charm, derived in large part from the appealing Frampton, who never stoops to overt cutesiness.

The pic also has its affecting moments, especially in the scenes between Hope and her fellow cancer sufferer Sarah, in which the dialogue rings painfully true. The screenplay features welcome doses of winking humor, making fun of not only Fault in Our Stars (the pinnacle of dying teenage-girl weepies) but also such pop culture touchstones as Ghost.    

While Hope Springs Eternal lacks the depth and pathos of such similarly themed films as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it delivers its relevant message with a refreshing breeziness.

Production company: Gylden Entertainment
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Cast: Mia Rose Frampton, Stony Blyden, Juliette Angelo, Beau Brooks, Beth Lacke, Lauren Giraldo, Kate Rachesky, Pej Vahdat
Director: Jack C. Newell
Screenwriter: Stephanie Mickus
Producers: Lauren Hannum, Alex Levine, Jeff McHugh, Andrew Eriksen Nold, Austin Rising, Levi Smock
Executive producers: Christina M. Nold, Eric D. Nold
Director of photography: Peter Biagi
Production designer: Matt Hyland
Editor: David Zimmerman
Composer: Jay Vincent
Costume designer: Jax Sirotiak
Casting: Nickole Doro, Shayna Sherwood

Rated PG, 78 minutes