They have been married for thirty years, and to the outside world they have the perfect marriage, but for Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) things are not so sweet. They live in separate bedrooms, pretty much have separate lives, and have not been intimate for years. But Kay wants more; she still has needs, and wants them fulfilled. Hinting is no good; Arnold simply does not react. She’s ready to walk out, when she comes across the work of Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) a marriage councilor who runs extensive marriage relationship courses in Hope Springs. Organizing a weeklong trip, she forces Arnold’s hands to go, but will he change or is he just to stuck in his ways?
For many Hope Springs will be an uncomfortable watch, it focuses on every aspect of the leads marriage, including sex, and in handling things it gets a little intimate, not explicitly so, but still a little more intimate than some would like to see of these mid 60 year old actors. While it’s a given, that people of a certain age still want to have sex, does an audience really want to get involved in that?
Hope Springs is a movie that’s humour is for all, but its impact will only really appear to a certain percentage of the available viewing audience. As we age, we get more familiar with the situations the characters go through, but until we get to that certain age (40+), things may not be so clear.
Streep and Jones handle the task in hand (there is a pun in there) remarkably well, but its incredibly likely that even they struggled with some of the subject matter, especially during a couple of awkward sexual encounters.
This is an incredibly competent comedy, its refreshing and honest… maybe a little too honest for some. The most important aspect is it really works, because it shows the stubbornness of the human soul. It also has a couple of rather interesting twists when counseling gets underway.
The score is an interesting mix; in someway some of the music seems a little too modern for the characters as for the most part its designed to set the characters mental state at that point in time.
On the whole Hope Springs really works, it’s a lovely movie that takes you on rollercoaster of emotions; but it’s the whole un-comfortableness that you will reflect on when you leave the cinema, rather than the witty humour, powerful performances, and beautiful set pieces…
You have been warned.
Hope Springs in UK cinemas from September 14th.