NEW YORK (AP) _ ``Waiting to Exhale'' director Forest Whitaker _ ladies' man?

Audiences can decide for themselves after his new film, ``Hope Floats,'' opens May 29 as a counterpoint to the summer's big-budget monster and meteorite movies.

Sandra Bullock is cast as a former small-town homecoming queen who goes home after learning her husband has been cheating on her; Harry Connick Jr., plays the charmer she meets.

Whitaker, best known for his acting roles in ``Bird'' and ``The Crying Game,'' finds it amusing when he's described as a women's director, though he has quite happily taken on that role.

``What I like about `Hope Floats' as well as `Exhale' is that they're really about people trying to address the repetitious issues in their lives and learning from that,'' he said in Friday's New York Times. ``They're about finding hope.''