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  • I am a single, 67 year old retiree, who has been married and divorced twice; and this movie really touched me. It acted as a sort of cinematic mirror to prompt me to reflect upon the many daily choices, or even finer gradations of volition, that make up a healthy or dysfunctional marriage or relationship of any kind. The movie was about how we create our own heaven or hell, in the house, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, and in life. We lose our grip on our passionate love affairs almost the way that dust slowly collects on the floor. Didn't I just vacuum that dust yesterday? That is how a marriage can ossify, degrade itself, as if consciousness itself were shot full of some sort of novocaine by sneaky subtle injections over the years, one feeling at a time numbed.

    Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell are excellent and break new emotional and acting ground for all three master actors.

    The movie made me think about my entire life, and it made me reflect upon my parents' marriage, too.

    Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal of Arnold, a man who has been an accountant so long he can simply function on automatic with his customers, not really giving his passionate self to his business- or his marriage, ran the gamut from acceptance of various ruts to various kinds of rage, embarrassment, and stubbornness, refusal to drop his pride, or make compromises that would have been in the best interests of himself, his wife and the marriage.

    The camera does not editorialize. It shows Arnold falling asleep watching golf instruction on television. The camera directly above the frying pan and close up, depicts Meryl Streep's Kay, sizzling a strip of bacon and one sunny side up egg for Arnold every day, day after day. He eats his breakfast with his back to her as he reads the paper, then gets up, every day, and gives her a peck on the check without even making eye contact, and he's off to work again- like an unemotional little engine that could.

    When Sisyphus pushed that boulder up to the top of the hill, his punishment by the gods, he had to watch it roll back down to the bottom of the hill whereupon, he repeated this process - for eternity. But Sisyphus smiled - at least according to Albert Camus, he smiled. It occurred to me that relationships and marriages devolve into accommodations, and that passion, like air being spent out the tiny leaks in a worn tire, can evanesce before either party truly, deeply realizes what they are doing, what they have done. The smiles in this movie are forced, automatic, defensive, painful. Boulders are not openly acknowledged.

    In this movie, every scene is slightly underplayed. No line or gesture is over the top. Almost every word of dialogue is realistic. I never felt that I was being lectured or preached to. I did think that the background music was too intrusive several times, however, almost as if someone did not trust Meryl Streep to carry the emotional load of the scene - an error of judgement. This movie needed no such authorial or directorial intrusion - That is my only criticism.

    "Hope Springs" is a movie about the ingredients of happiness or lack of same, and the finesse of the actors, the director, the cinematographer and the editors is magnificent. They never stooped to dwell on any sort of cliché dialogue or acting flourishes. It was believable.

    I felt that the movie really opened up my life. I wish I had seen it 45 years ago when I married for the first time. It is that good.
  • The trailer and marketing campaign for this film is another instance of a collection of sound bites making a film seem like something that it is not. This is NOT a geriatric sex comedy. In fact, I would not even call it a comedy. There are some laughs, several smiles, but most of the time I was in tears. If you go there expecting laughs, you may be disappointed. I went there with such expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised and amazed.

    I am about the same age as the couple, and I deal with divorcing couples every day. This film is so real and true-to-life, with no big fight or over-the-top scene, which is appropriate since so many marriages end as a result of a collection of little unintended cruelties becoming unbearable.

    I cannot think of any film in which Tommy Lee Jones or Meryl Streep gave a more astonishing performance. Tommy Lee going to a couples therapy session run by Steve Carell? The perfect set-up for lots of laughs, but then we realize the situation is really not funny.

    Imagine a film in which Steve Carell has absolutely no gags, routines or funny bits. Yet I can't imagine anyone doing that role better. He was in another film dealing (in part) with a relationship gone bad, "Crazy Stupid Love," which was a comic take (and a marvelous film). Trying to find another film for comparison, the closest that comes to mind is Bergman's "Scenes From A Marriage." But I think this film about the same general subject is much more accessible.

    I would have given this film a 10, but the soundtrack of obvious songs to underscore the plot became somewhat distracting. The song most appropriate here (but not used) is "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." The couple here would be from the same generation as Carly Simon.

    I'm going back.
  • The plot seemed simple enough, a marriage in trouble, but when you have Streep and Jones you expect a treat and the did not disappoint at all. The scenes where they are sitting with the the therapist you can cut the tension with a knife. You expect Streep to be brilliant and she is, but Jones more than hold his own. It is difficult to play a man who is unable to be vulnerable and he truly excelled.

    Of course as with every cinematic experience depends on your state of mind and your demographic. The couple sitting in front of me were elderly and mid way through the movie the lady leaned over and put her head on her partner's shoulder and stayed like that through the rest of the movie. This movie does that to you, it makes you appreciate your partner more, you can almost thank them for putting up with our own shortcomings.

    This is a real movie for real people ... Enjoy!
  • It's always interesting to read people's reviews of movies and instead of getting a review, we get a paragraphs full of narcissism, relentless scrutiny, and disappointment. What reviewers have to understand is that yours is not the only perspective on what makes a good movie, in fact, good.

    The problem is, genuine realism is lost on those expecting the standard Hollywood-esque, brushed-canvasses, flawless plot lines, and riveting dialogue. Life is rarely like that and when a movie comes along that depicts some real-life humanity, with all our human idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities, it gets dissected because a few outspoken individuals are expecting reality as its portrayed in Reality TV and not reality as most of us know it, as it really is.

    This movie captured the tenuous nature of intimate relationships and all the things we don't say to each other. It is uncomfortable for most of us to be that exposed and vulnerable with another human being, and that is what Hope Springs capitalized on better than many other films of this genre. The communication difficulties Jones and Streep exhibited were masterfully portrayed. The dialogue wasn't always fun and lively, but that's what added to the authenticity of the plot and the main developing theme. If you're looking for mindless entertainment, something easy to digest, there's plenty out there. If you're up for a healthy dose of reality and a powerful, vital message, then give Hope Springs a viewing. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Happy film hunting!
  • Meryl Streep is a wonder, let's start right there. After her towering portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, an ordinary woman in real danger of disappearing all together. Real and enormously moving. Tommy Lee Jones gives us a face we hadn't seen before. Someone so settled in his ways that he doesn't notice what's happening around him. That's why, I though, his realization is so poignant. The film is based on a solid script but the direction is sluggish and uncertain to say the least. It feels as if the director didn't trust his material. The songs and the score, out of a Lifetime TV movie, doesn't allow us to connect with the real truths unfolding in the screen. That, I must confess, was very annoying. I recommend the film on the strength of the two central performances. Intimacy between two grown ups reflected on every look on every move until the score comes to interfere and derail our emotions.
  • A slightly-over-middle-age couple finds themselves in more than a rut, post-post empty nest. What to do?

    An overly-simplified plot outline for a lovely, sweet, funny, sad, quiet movie that allows the cast's acting talents to shine. A great script with spot-on character development. None of your over-dramatics here.

    We all know about Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones, but even they deliver some newness. But Steve Carell gives us a nuanced performance without the smallest hint of shtick. Notice Elisabeth Shue in a small part that delivers big. As well as Jean Smart & Mimi Rogers.

    Don't miss this one.
  • There is no feeling of being lonesome so crushing as being in a room with someone, in a relationship with somebody, when the feeling is gone. This couple, married thirty one years, have discovered this, as some of us have at different times in our lives.

    Tommy Lee Jones is the husband, marred down in his married life that has dimmed into something he feels will never be bright again. Never expects it to be. Is perfectly willing to plod along through life as is with his anger and dismay at how things have turned out hidden and suppressed. Meryl Streep is his wife, loving and longing to be loved, feeling that marriage should not be this way, no longer feeling attractive or appreciated. Willing to come out of her shell to try for change. Elizabeth Shue, who we don't see nearly enough of lately, was excellent. I have never liked Steve Carell so much in a role as I did in his part as the marriage counselor, trying to inflate this flattened union.

    Many, many couples, married for decades will feel parts, if not all of this movie, in a personal way. I go to a lot of films and the number of people in the theater for the showing of this movie was more than I've seen gathered for an afternoon in the theater in years. I mean years. That's how infrequently we have a decent movie with fabulous actors come out, with no filthy language, no gratuitous sex….nothing to detract from a solid screenplay, a story well told and well acted. This one was exasperating, touching, amusing in spots, made you smile, caused you to shake your head… has it all. At the end of this film, everyone…and I mean everyone…was smiling, happy that they had come to see this one. Wow. That doesn't happen often.

    Perhaps the young people won't see or appreciate the truth of this film so much, but let me tell you, the young are not the only folks buying tickets to movies. And every person with a few years under his or her belt, married to the same spouse for decades, will understand it and love it!
  • There are movies that come along that fall in numerous genres. The latest Hope Springs seems to be pushing the comedy but sports a story that could easily be delivering the drama so going in is already somewhat of a mystery on what to really expect. With a stellar cast of Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell is there any way this film couldn't work on some level?

    Hope Springs follows a married couple who have grown apart. They head out to Hope Springs to attempt to rekindle their lost spark, but with a skeptical husband reluctant to take on the treatment is there any chance of saving this marriage? This is one of those movies that actually hit the mark successfully being both a comedy and a drama. When it's funny it hit a lot of really funny, sometimes uncomfortable funny moments. These are not a bad thing, but more uncomfortable for the characters in the situation thus causing a bit for the audience. What makes this film go from something pretty average to deliver something a bit more is the cast. Jones and Streep have both great chemistry throughout the film and feel like a real couple during the problem times as well as the emotional affection ones. This is their movie to shine and the emotional roller coaster they both deliver really makes this film work. They bounce around from typical married couple to acting like teenagers in love like only someone with their talent could do. Carell does a great job playing the straight laced doctor, but really only serves as a buffer to help this story of these too move along. This does showcase another chance to show he is more than just a funny man, but just doesn't bring a whole lot to the film, but what he does works well. The story isn't anything all that new, but will easily affect any age couple in a relationship that have experienced something like this from the emotional moments to the comedic ones.

    This is a memorable cute heartfelt movie that is usually saved for the younger cast, but gives it this new twist using the older couple. Jones and Streep show that they still have it in both the acting chops and the love story delivering some unexpected sexual humor that elevated this movie just out of average and into a fun worthwhile cute film.
  • Hope Springs (2012)

    *** (out of 4)

    Charming comedy about a married couple (Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones) who have been together for thirty-one years but the wife starts to think they're losing everything. She forces her husband to go to a marriage counselor (Steve Carell) and soon they realize that a lot more is wrong than they thought. If you're looking for some deep, hard hitting marriage drama then I highly recommend you check out Ingmar Bergman's SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. If you're looking for some light entertainment that will make you laugh then HOPE SPRINGS is just the film for you. Yes, I understand you could argue that Streep and Jones are too talented to appear in such a simple comedy but I personally don't think it matters and especially since both of them are so enjoyable here. What really struck me is that the two really do come across as a real couple who have been together for over thirty-years. Both actors are clearly into their roles and this is especially true for Jones who easily steals the picture. He can play grumpy like no other person out there and he does a terrific job here. His replies to being pressured by the doctor have a certain comic timing, which I found downright hilarious at times. Carell is also very good as the man in the middle. He basically just has to sit there and ask questions but the actor made the role quite memorable. The film is far from perfect as there's no doubt that it starts to wear down in the final fifteen minutes or so but the two actors are simply so charming that it's still worth watching.
  • claudiajoan419 August 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've been married 37 years and just like the movie says, "A lot of good marriages have some bad years." This is what summarized the storyline for me. The passage of time creates complacency and the doldrums needing a good blast of air in the sails to get it moving again. Going for a week of intensive therapy made sense in this case. One reviewer said they were robotic and yes, that was it...the morning routine, right down to placing the briefcase and jacket in the same spot! It was correct! It was perfectly handled, reserved wife doesn't speak up or complain, but instead heads to "couples" therapy ALONE. How many couple-halves have done that? Can I get an AMEN? But there is a voice of fear deep under all that gruff, redundancy in Tommy Lee Jones' character and he relents and goes. WATCH HIS FACE. His rugged face transforms from one scene to the next in the most remarkable way. He nearly looks like a different person once the "ice" is broken and they actually touch affectionately again after years of lack.I can't think of anything to say about Meryl other than beauty, excellence, and never disappointing. She just exudes joy, even when she's miserable...greatness...depth...layers and layers. Steve Carrel played the straight man with tenderness and subtlety beyond my wildest imaginings. The close-ups had me expecting a typical goof-ball break in his demeanor and it never happened. He was the quintessential good counselor. Well, of course in a perfect world all marital problems would/could be solved in a week, but face it...not going to happen. However, the key elements rose to the top...persevere if it is important and let it go if it's not. Communication MUST exist. Tear down those walls. Sexuality doesn't end at 50 and having someone who knows you intimately helps a lot. And let me just add...after age 50 the face starts to change! Yes, TLJ looked haggard. Yes, MS looked uncomfortable, matronly. But look at their transformation! The breakthrough took 10 years off each of them and I don't think it was the magic of Botox either. They looked REAL! They looked like me...they looked like US. THANK YOU! So, if you still believe marriages and relationships can withstand the tests of time, seven year itch, and whatever else life throws at you then see this movie. It might renew your belief that good things can still happen if you work for it. I was inspired.
  • Based on the trailers, I was expecting at least some comedy and romance, along the lines of Somethings Gotta Give. An older couple falling in love. I understood the story was an older married couple re-igniting their love. What I got was 100 minutes of sadness and then the agony of Steve Carrell trying to drag out the details of their sex life, favorite positions, favorite sexual acts. I mean at one point his advice to them is for her to perform oral sex on him in the movie theater. I would have turned it off except we were watching it with friends at their house and I think no one wanted to be the first to say they hated it, since I was the one who picked it out at the video store. My video renting privileges have been revoked according to my husband for picking this movie. LOL! The ONLY saving grace was that it did have a happy ending, but you don't know that until just before the credits roll. Seriously, the only light hearted moments are shown in the trailer which is seriously misleading about this movie.

    So, in conclusion, don't waste your time or money. It's not a feel good kind of movie that leaves you happy and optimistic of life and love and especially about marriage.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Good actors. Nice setting (quaint town). This is a story about a stale relationship. These two people have turned away from each other and share equal responsibility for their wretched marriage. In the end though, the husband is forced to bury his pain and his own feelings of despair. Meanwhile, the wife is portrayed as the sensitive spouse who is in need of love and attention. This is a very dysfunctional script about a dysfunctional marriage. Too bad the writer took sides. She failed this couple, she failed the movie and she failed the viewers who might be influenced to believe that a man should be tough enough to not have feelings and needs of his own. "Comedy" was one of the descriptive adjectives for this movie. There is nothing funny about this movie. It is a tediously miserable film about tediously miserable lives. You do not have to watch this movie to become hopelessly disillusioned, just turn on the six o'clock news.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones show why they are the best actors of this generation. Their performances will be remembered this award season.

    Here Streep forces Jones to examine the boredom of their sexless marriage. So what if they seem a bit old to be married only thirty years. Steve Carell gets the mostly stoic role of their therapist.

    It's the kind of soft script, if it didn't get Streep it most likely would not have been made. Maine locations don't quite open it enough and it feels like a play. A good play.

    You care about the characters, even if, at times it is difficult to forget you are watching Meryl Streep. It has a few laughs but it's actually on the serious side.

    In a summer loaded with explosions car chases and various shot'em-ups, it is a pleasant change of pace. See it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There is a deep sadness in Kay's eyes the night that she puts on a sexy nightgown and enters her husband's bedroom, hoping that he will take the hint. She already knows what will happen. They haven't slept in the same room in years. She finds her husband Arnold propped up in the bed reading a Golf magazine, and when he looks at her, he assumes that she has come to complain that her room is too cold. Minutes pass before he realizes what she wants. Fumbling at her wordless suggestion, he makes an excuse about not feeling well. We sense that this has become a routine.

    Hope Springs is a flawed, but intelligent comic-drama about a marriage that has slipped into a repetitive rut. Arnold and Kay Soames have been married for 31 years, and have been alone in the house since their last child left for college four years ago. Arnold is happy in his routine and Kay is too afraid of starting an argument to tell him that she is bored stiff. His life is perfectly content. He gets up in the morning, has the same thing for breakfast – two eggs sunny-side up, side of bacon with coffee and orange juice. He goes to work, then comes home, has dinner, natters a bit about his job (he's an accountant), then falls asleep in front of the golf channel. He acknowledges Kay more or less the same way that he does the refrigerator. He loves her but seems to regard her more as a fixture. All around him, Kay wanders about her daily routine, trying to find some way to break it. The couple is at odds emotionally and physically (he hasn't touched her in years) until finally Kay has had enough.

    One night over dinner she presents him with a bold announcement. She has signed them up for a week-long couples counseling session with a certain Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell) in Maine with money that she has been saving. Arnold's natural instinct is to give Kay's suggestion a resounding "Hell, no", but Kay is ready for this. She tells him that the plane leaves in the morning and she will be on it whether he is there or not. No points for guessing what his decision will be.

    What you think will happen (based on a very misleading trailer) is that Hope Springs will be loaded with all kinds of classic misunderstandings, colorful supporting characters, pratfalls, and foolish one-liners in the service of trekking Arnold and Kay on the road to marital bliss. You'd be half-right. The best parts of Hope Springs take place in the therapist's office as the good-natured (and very patient) Dr. Feld tries to get Arnold and Kay to open up about where their marriage stalled. Arnold doesn't want to talk because he has long-since given up his emotions for grouchy indifference. Kay is afraid to talk because doesn't want to rock the boat, but the further that Dr. Feld digs into their relationship; the more he gets them to open up.

    Not much of what happens to Arnold and Kay is a surprise. Hope Springs is an often complicated drama that draws them toward reigniting the fire in their marriage, but it doesn't get any more complicated than it needs to be. What is refreshing is that the plot is thin enough that it gets out of their way. This is more of a character study than a full-blooded story. There are no needless side-plots, no useless pratfalls, no unnecessary characters. What we have here is a very involving portrait of two people who have lived in each other's company for 31 years and now have to reestablish what it means to be married.

    The most brilliant decision was the casting. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep are so familiar to us that we get comfortable with them right away. We can believe from the first moment we see them that they have been married for three decades. Streep, of course, is the most expressive of actors, always able to reveal hidden dimensions without uttering a word. There are moments in the therapist's office when she doesn't speak and we can see her thinking. But it is Tommy Lee Jones that surprises us (she's great, but he's a revelation). This is a very rare role for him. He often plays police officers and military men, but here he is required to play a man who must crack his tough exterior to be more of a sensitive and loving man for his wife. He's the perfect actor to do it, and knowing that Arnold isn't that far from Jones' personality it real life, this must have been a difficult role for him to play.

    Most of the therapy deals with their sex life (they don't have one). Dr. Feld asks some very pointed, and often painfully uncomfortable questions in an effort to get these two to open up. The scene in which he digs under their sex life is played with blinding honestly and is made all the more uncomfortable by the director's wise decision not to undercut it with a musical score. Even better is the fact that Steve Carrell – one of our best comic talents – plays the role of the therapist completely straight. He is bold, he is honest, and he quietly hammers Arnold and Kay with questions that they are clearly ill-equipped to answer.

    If there is one weakness in the film, it is the ending. The movie is about 20 minutes too long and gives us a happy ending that sponge-cleans all of Arnold and Kay's problems until they don't seem to exist anymore. A more life-goes-on ending might have been more appropriate here based on what has gone before, but still this is a good movie, well-written and well played.

    *** (out of four)
  • The story does not have anything that would be even slightly interesting. It was to the point that after therapy session number three I turned to my husband and asked if we would have to sit through ALL of their therapy sessions for the price of the admission to the movie? What was the whole point of the movie? Was it intended to be an educational manual to various things the couples 55+ should try while attempting to save their marriage? Some ratings stated that this is an issue of the whole aging generation. What is exactly the issue? The deny of the oral sex to each other, or lack of threesome to spice up the marriage, or the tight budget? The scenes of a wife attempting to have intimacy with her husband at all costs while he is refusing to perform are tasteless and a waste of time for the viewers and the actors. Unless someone is really intrigued by why this not even slightly attractive and visibly aged man denies simple pleasure to his not so bad looking for her age wife, movie has no other thought to offer.

    Why would someone rate a movie with past middle-aged masturbating woman scene and her going down on him in the movie theater scene PG-13? Would parents be comfortable watching it with their even 16+ years old kids? We walked out after the scene in which the wife unsuccessfully tries to "sacrifice" herself to the attempt of the oral sex. If there would be less than one star to give, I would give it.
  • This is only the second film I have ever walked out of . It was a rainy Saturday and my 13 year daughter went to see this with me as it was rated 12a , which in the UK means you can take children younger than 12 as long as they are with an adult, so it should have been safe to watch . I have never been so embarrassed in my life , therapy sessions talking about oral sex , threesomes and masturbation then to cap it all , they were seen in separate beds obviously masturbating . At this point my daughter turned to me and said " dad can we go it's embarrassing me . I can't believe this film has such a low rating , I am not a prude but this was far too near the knuckle for children .

    It is advertised as a comedy , but one hour into the film I didn't hear a single laugh from the audience .
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wow...what a disappointment. I love Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones but this was just creepy to watch. The characters had absolutely no chemistry and the "sex" scenes were very uncomfortable to watch. No ones needs to see TLJ with his legs spread apart with MS stroking him. NO ONE needs to see MS feeling herself up. The other sex scenes were just disgusting. In the movie theater trying to do oral sex, and on the floor in the hotel room with TLJ looming, scowling face...just one big EEEEEEEEWWWWW. I am the same age as they are and I would not want anyone watching me....LOL What a waste of talent. The same message could have been conveyed in a much more tasteful way. I thought the pairing of these two fabulous actors could have been so much more successful with less actual sex and more innuendo. More tenderness and caring....less awkwardness. Do not recommend this movie.
  • This is a boring, repetitive mess of a movie. Scene after scene with sex therapist played by Steve Carel ,who sadly brings no humor, and Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee as estranged couple repeating their expressions of "discomfort" over and over again. It's embarrassing to watch two talented actors "pretend" so poorly. Never for minute is it believable that these two would ever get together, let alone stay married for 30+ years. Lesser known actors would have been better, but then no one would go see it...which is my recommendation. I would also rate camera work as "poor", musical score seems to compete with on screen action more than support it, and the ending is straight out of a Lifetime channel made for TV movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Hope springs is advertised as a comedy, drama, romance, but I have to ask where was the comedy, what drama, romance? The only laughs in this film come from the 2 main actors laughing at their situation which remains unfunny and cringeworthy to the audience. I very rarely actively dislike a film but I have to make an exception, this film was boring, tedious and a complete waste of time, not only for the audience but also for the actors. There is no chemistry between Streep and Jones and this is not due to the subject matter, they look mismatched and as bored as the audience. Steve Carell should ask his agent why on earth he got roped into this role. In conclusion..........why make this film?
  • An ill-fated decision to give in to my girlfriend's pleas, seeing it was Valentines day. This movie has all the slovenly pace, predictability and dryness of the "fix your marriage book" that kicks off Meryl Streep's quest for conjugal bliss. In fact, take away the wasteful use of top stars and this could quite possibly have been a CD inserted in a sleeve in said book, for those who prefer to have their book read to them.

    Throw in some unsexy and awkward discussions and scenes around pensioner sex, and you have yourself one very boring, painful and unentertaining film.

    I can appreciate that some viewers "recognised" the film subject matter, but that doesn't legitimise eschewing a script and the arts of film making in favour of a lazy minute by minute "public record" approach
  • When I saw Meryl Streep play the seemingly facile Omaha housewife she portrays in this 2012 marital dramedy, I had an immediate flashback to an underrated romantic drama she did almost thirty years ago, Ulu Grosbard's "Falling in Love" (1984), in which she played a young married woman who couldn't help falling for a married architect (Robert De Niro) on a commuter train. I kept thinking of Kay as that earlier character all these years later trying to fan the embers of the passion that erupted so unpredictably back then. Interestingly, her younger character could not consummate the affair either but fell hopelessly in love anyway. Director David Frankel ("The Devil Wears Prada") and first-time screenwriter Vanessa Taylor travel to the opposite end of the marital spectrum, a 31-year-old marriage that finds Kay and her accountant husband Arnold sleeping in separate bedrooms having long ago lost any sense of intimacy and passion their marriage once had. The film begins with a seriocomic preface in which Kay awkwardly tries to seduce Arnold, an invitation he rebuffs with the flimsiest of excuses. Knowing their marriage is on auto-pilot, she fears being alone emotionally and ending their lives in emotional isolation now as they go through the motions in their sixties.

    An optimist despite the odds, Kay signs them up for a week of intensive couples therapy in Great Hope Springs, Maine, where renowned therapist Dr. Bernie Feld practices. Arnold is predictably resistant but begrudgingly accompanies her when he realizes how serious Kay is about the counseling. The sessions with Dr. Feld initially don't go well with Arnold protesting the doctor's every recommendation for building intimacy in his relationship with Kay. This is when the movie becomes the most surprising because every time a physically awkward moment presents itself, the feelings become heartfelt and sometimes humorous in unexpected ways. While Frankel and Taylor handle the slim story turns with genuine insight, it's the masterful work of Streep and Tommy Lee Jones that elevates the film into an experience that far transcends the Lifetime-TV orientation you would expect otherwise. Unafraid to come across as harshly judgmental, Jones has made a career of playing dyspeptic curmudgeons, so it's nice to see him gradually reveal Arnold's vulnerabilities with skill and delicacy. He has to play Arnold close to the vest but not so insular as to make you wonder what Kay saw in him in the first place. After tackling larger-than-life figures like Julia Child and Margaret Thatcher, Streep is splendid portraying a sheltered woman who contributes as much to the fossilized, inchoate marriage as Arnold does.

    At 63, the actress allows herself to look even beyond her age, but she's still beautiful in a shopworn way. I love how she almost swallows every word she speaks as if Kay's tentative nature is holding back grand expectations of a romance she can only fantasize about. The two veteran actors have a natural rapport that gives the viewer a rooting interest in seeing them overcome their age-old emotional and physical barriers. There are moments between them especially in the film's last third that are quite heartbreaking, especially when they come to learn that they aren't the people they believed themselves, or each other, to be. Steve Carell plays Feld straight-up without an iota of irony, and his clinical approach works effectively within this context. The rest of the supporting cast makes very little impact, including Jean Smart as Kay's sassy manager at the Coldwater Creek she works part-time, Elisabeth Shue as an equally sassy barmaid counseling Kay on sex, and Mimi Rogers as the final payoff of a joke about a comely (and yes, sassy) neighbor with a trio of corgis. The young actors who play Kay and Arnold's adult children are barely present, but I'm sure that was part of the intention in order to allow complete focus on the couple. Frankel overdoes the soundtrack music when moments of silence would have been far more effective, but otherwise, the tone feels spot-on.
  • I liked Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin together in "It's Complicated", the depiction of older people being sexual really worked. It was light hearted and fun. Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in "Something's Gotta Give" were a little harder to warm up to (e.g., Keaton's over the top-I've got an ice cube down my back- reactions to Nicholson's physical advances), but the time they spent away from the bedroom was smart and touching. "Hope Springs" union of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, (who seems to think he is still in the role of Chaa-duu-ba-its-iidan in "The Missing") is soooo uncomfortable (and yes, kind of icky), that it could succeed in making women under forty convinced that as we age, sex inevitably dries up, as do people's personalities, intellect and spirit.
  • lotekguy-19 August 2012
    I'm often disappointed, but rarely so annoyed by the gaps between potential and the reality of the finished product. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as empty-nesters, coasting on the fumes of their long marriage in middle-class Middle America. She's too shy and inhibited to express her loneliness; he's too clueless to even notice, much less care, how robotic their roles have become. Streep finally musters the combined desperation and courage to coerce her hubby to fly with her to a small town in Maine for a week of intensive counseling with a self-help author (Steve Carell).

    The idea is about as timely as it could be for a generation of Boomers approaching that stage of life. The stars would seem to be ideally suited to depict the nascent angst of a generation, offering warmth, wit and insights into their own situations. But when the film starts, that hope begins to fizzle. The problem is the script, the whole script, and nothing but the script. Writer Vanessa Taylor creates mere caricatures of the demographics Streep and Jones should represent. She's far too wimpy, and he's far too grumpy for the dramedy with heart and substance such actors could deliver. Films like Shirley Valentine, About Schmidt, or Something's Gotta Give, to name a few, have far more successfully mixed laughs with learning in romantic matters among the graying. The course we slog through with these cardboard cutouts becomes more excruciating for the viewer than for the characters. Carell is wasted; Jean Smart and Elizabeth Shue have such brief, inconsequential parts that one wonders if better scenes with them missed the final cut, adding yet another level of failure to the package.

    About 20 years ago, a movie called Dying Young sugarcoated the course of terminal cancer on a young man (Campbell Scott) and the woman (Julia Roberts) who loved him. Fine actors were stuck in a turgid soaper that not only made a lame film, but possibly an affront to anyone who'd actually lived through the loss of a loved one to debilitating illnesses. This one trivializes the real emotions of another group by showing a couple too simplistically for substance, but not broadly enough for farce.

    Those old enough to remember, or at least get, Guy Lombardo's joke that when he dies he's taking New Year's Eve with him can join in my hope that this film is not the first sign that Nora Ephron's recent passing means the same for romantic comedies that nourish both the heart and the mind.
  • aleator9 October 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    A strong candidate for the worst film I have ever seen, in fact it barely qualifies as a film at all, more like one long tortuous therapy session. OK I admit I'm not a Meryl Streep fan - I find her irritating mannerisms very tiresome and here she is worse than ever. But it's not just that; the whole thing is so hollow and frankly embarrassing. Needless to say it is also politically correct - Jones is the worst sort of grumpy old codger;it's all his fault the marriage has gone so stale. Streep is wimpy but angelic and hard done by. There is no way these two would've ever got together.No attempt is made to ask WHY things have got to where they are or what lurks in the background of their marriage. In any case the scenario is so unlike the reality which is that it's mostly women who pass on sex once the children come along. European audiences wince at the American tendency to seek out therapy as the answer to their problems. They know that being 'open' and talking frankly is a high-risk strategy likely to cause more problems that it solves. When Jones is asked about his secret fantasy he mentions the girl next door!! Spare me - we all know if he tried to explain his REAL fantasy,Streep would have the divorce papers on the breakfast table next day..A truly awful film.
  • zadkine27 December 2012
    Remember after "Jaws" people saying they had a fear of getting back into the water? After "Hope Springs" you may have a fear of getting back into bed. The shark, here played by Meryl Streep, is in half-hearted pursuit of Tommy Lee Jones (perhaps this shark is a vegetarian), or at least that's how Tommy appears to view her. He plays a kind of reverse Ahab, wanting to flee at the very sight of her. Why she doesn't want to flee at the very sight of him is a bit of a mystery. If you found Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" misogynistic, try to get your head around this film. This "No Tango in Maine" makes "Last Tango" look like Romeo & Juliet. "Last Tango" is all about sex, with sex. "Hope Springs" is all about sex, with no sex. Which is not that unusual, really, since most American films that are all about sex have no sex (e.g. any film starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston, etc.)

    Back to "Hope Springs". The premise: The secret of a good relationship is oral sex. That's the premise of most porn films, you say. You say right.

    As with all porn films, few people seem to have stayed for the ending of "Hope Springs". This may be the most walked-out-of film of the year. So how and why does something this trashy get made? How does something by Lars von Trier ("Melancholia") get made? There seems to be an audience for films that express a fear and loathing of straight sex, marriage, and common decency. Loveless, without wit or charm, "Hope Springs" is described in many of the one star reviews as "creepy", creepy being the secular equivalent of evil in our tiresomely non-judgmental way of skirting the issue. But how can you skirt around it? Everything this film says about marriage is degrading and twisted.

    The writer of this film, Vanessa Taylor, is nominated in the Outstanding Film or Show Written by a Woman category at The Women's Image Network Awards for 2012.
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