If you are going to do a film with only three characters, build the story around an old married couple with intimacy issues, and have nothing blow up or no one with a bow and arrow; it better be expertly acted! But considering the cast of the new romantic comedy, HOPE SPRINGS, that never was a big worry. This guys can deliver in their sleep, and one almost does.
Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married over 30 years. Arnold thinks everything is grand and he has the license to prove it. Kay longs for more than just a roommate scenario and pines for the early years when they shared a life together. When she signs them up for an intensive week long marriage therapy session with Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), Arnold reluctantly goes along.
Streep and Jones are perfectly cast and work splendidly together. His gruff demeanor makes you hate him at first but as the film goes along you start to see the gooey center. Streep still has such a sparkle in her eye and can play frumpy and frolicker at the turn of the lens. She truly is the best actress of our time and once again creates a person with such realism and deep emotion that you forget you are watching a character. As a married couple they reflect so many people we all know.
There are a lot of funny moments in this film but at the core it is a serious drama that shines a light on what is probably common in a lot of homes across our country. People growing old and apart. There used to be such a love and spark in their lives and you wonder if it is too late to get back. The movie never candy coats any of the issues nor does it try and find a way to tie it up in a pretty bow. That was another thing I appreciated about the film.
Surprisingly the weakest length was Carell. Though a solid actor he is better served playing a character that doesn’t quite have it all together. He works well when he is uncomfortable. Having him be in a situation where he has all the right answers and knows all the right things to say seems odd. You expect him at any moment to say something off kilter. Luckily he is there to mainly volley questions at this talented duo and watch them shine.
Hope Springs is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content involving sexuality. There is a lot of hard questions in this film regarding intamcy, sexuality and bedroom romance. Though it is never crude or out of line many may feel squirmy hearing them describe what their characters are feeling. This film is aimed straight at the 40 somethings and older. Anyone younger than that will probably be bored and find the banter icky. Those who love perfect acting and have lived many years in marriage will find this a solid date night film and one that might even spark a few conversations. I give it 4 out of 5 bunches of bananas. Keep in mind it has a tight wheelhouse but those in that group will find it splendid. Those outside that may wonder why they bothered.