out of Five
Running time: 100
A gentle, real look at an older couple, who after decades of routine and familiarity, attempt to reignite the spark of what attracted them to each other in the first place.
What's it all about?
Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold Soames (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married for 31 years. Their children have left home. Arnold is a bit of a grump who likes his life “just so:” bacon and eggs for breakfast, then off to work at the accountancy firm. Their lives have fallen into the rut of complacency. So familiar are they with each other, they barely speak. In a bid to reignite their relationship, both in and out of the bedroom, Kay books them in to a special intensive couples counseling with Dr Bernard Feld (Steve Carell) in the quaint seaside town of Great Hope Springs. Arnold does not go willingly.
The beauty of Hope Springs is the awkwardness. Kay and Arnolds uncomfortable-ness is palpable, as they, two people of the older generation, sit on Dr Felds couch and are made to discuss their (altogether nonexistent) sex life. There are moments that are laugh out loud hilarious. Sometimes it feels as if you’ve stumbled in on your parents having sex – reacting with a mixture of “ew”, hysterical laughing and cringworthiness. At other times it’s bittersweet. Hope Springs could so easily have been trite, but director David Frankel (who directed Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada) with the help of screenwriter Vanessa Taylor (Game of Thrones) lifts it above “cheesy.”
With such extraordinary actors it would be hard for this movie to fail. Meryl Streep is superb, portraying a gamut of emotions with the slight raising of her eyebrow. Tommy Lee Jones makes grumpy old Arnold somewhat endearing. It’s also nice to see Steve Carell playing it relatively straight for once.
As with many Hollywood movies, it does seem a touch over sentimental at times, and it does hit a couple of speed bumps with a fair amount of navel gazing and pondering of relationships.
Yes. Those of a certain age may recognise themselves or their other halves in Kay and Arnold, so the movie could be seen as a cheaper form of therapy! Either way, Hope Springs leaves you feeling happy. Happy, uplifted, and hopeful of growing old with the one you love.
And watch out for the experimentation scene. Belly laugh funny.