City of Hope (film)

City of Hope (film)
City of Hope

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Sayles
Produced by Harold Welb
John Sloss
Written by John Sayles
Starring Vincent Spano
Stephen Mendillo
Chris Cooper
Music by Mason Daring
Cinematography Robert Richardson
Editing by John Sayles
Distributed by Esperanza Films
The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date(s) October 11, 1991
Running time 129 minutes
Country United States
Language English

City of Hope (1991) is an American drama film written and directed by John Sayles. The film features Vincent Spano, Stephen Mendillo and Chris Cooper.[1]

The film tells the story of Nick Rinaldi (Vincent Spano), who has spent his life in one New Jersey city, getting a free ride from his well-connected father (Tony LoBianco) and hearing the locals talk of his brother's death in Vietnam. He's usually high on drink and drugs.



As Rinaldi searches for more self control, he quits the contractor's job provided by his father, feeling that major events are about to happen in his life. By the film's end his life will change, as will the lives of many others.


Critical reception

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "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."[2]

The staff at Variety magazine wrote, "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."[3]

Film critics Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat wrote about the varied aspects of the film, writing, "Through the diverse activities of over three dozen characters in this film, we see some of the major challenges of urban living including crime, political chicanery, the patronage system, the demise of the work ethic, the rapacious side of capitalism, and the high cost of civic apathy. City of Hope helps us see that community is enriched or torn apart by the ethical decisions we make every day."[4]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 93% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 15 reviews."[5]


The producers used the following tagline to market the film:

Welcome to the American city. You buy your way in, and you fight your way out. Who says it's a free country?

The film premiered in Baltimore, Boston, and New York City, on October 11, 1991 and debuted in Los Angeles on October 25, 1991.

The film was screened at various film festivals, including: the Deauville Film Festival, France; the Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan; and others.




  • Deauville Film Festival: Critics Award; John Sayles; 1991.
  • Independent Spirit Awards: Independent Spirit Award; Best Feature, Sarah Green and Maggie Renzi; 1992.

See also


  1. ^ City of Hope at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times, film review, October 25, 1991.
  3. ^ Variety, film review, 1991. Last accessed: March 1 2008.
  4. ^ Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann. Spirituality & Practice, film review, 1970–2007. Last accessed: March 1, 2008.
  5. ^ City of Hope at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: March 1, 2008.

External links

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