Director: David Frankel
Written by: Vanessa Taylor
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Synopsis: After thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple attends an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship.
Welcome to another edition of The Movie Blog’s Chick Flick Friday. This week we have a movie that is geared towards an older female demographic but its message can appeal to any couple. After reviewing Magic Mike which focuses on the visual aspect of sex, “Hope Springs” brings attention to sex and its importance to a relationship on a deeper level. Of course I brought my girlfriend along to save my remaining bits of manhood and blame it on her…just like I blame her for continuously watching “Love Actually” around Christmas…even though I’m the one who pushes play.
This film definitely has a usual “chick flick” cliche to it but with such a strong cast and great performances from that cast, it is so much more. Meryl Streep is as dynamic in this role as she is in others. She is undeniably one of the most talented people in Hollywood and her performances never disappoint. Her role as an aged spouse looking to revive her marriage is supplemented perfectly by Tommy Lee Jones’ usual tough and to the point persona. It’s easy to see Jones as someone lacking in emotion as well as Streep as a desperate wife looking to rekindle the flame of their marriage. Together they form a couple that has fallen into the routine of a marriage with a lack of intimacy, which is made believable by what they each bring to their roles. The state of their current relationship is the focus of this film, and there is little focus on the world outside of this which pushes this film to be primarily driven by character development. The solution to their relationship problems is a successful marriage counselor named Dr. Feld played by Steve Carell. Feld is very monotone and emotionless, as a counselor should be, and is the catalyst for change and voice of reason in the film. Carell’s character is boring but is necessary for the development of Kay (Streep) and Arnold’s (Jones) relationship. It’s hard to give an actual evaluation of Carell’s performance because his character is so purposefully systematic therefore my opinion remains neutral.
The development of Kay and Arnold is an emotional roller coaster ride from start to finish. There is an expected mix of happy and sad but the most surprising moments are the moments of awkward humor. The awkward moments in intimacy are rarely seen in films and in this film it brought some great laugh out loud humor and also a sense of reality to marriage. Tommy Lee Jones is absolutely hysterical with his coy yet stern attitude towards the discussion of sex and the exercises that the doctor asks Kay and Arnold to do. This humor is a needed break from the sometimes staid tone that comes with the steps towards progress in the couples’ relationship. Some may consider the slow progression of their intimacy to be long-winded or boring but I found it to be true to life and it helped me to relate to the characters and follow them more closely on their journey. Connecting with the characters of this film is essential to the plot and theme. The theme of putting effort into relationships and story of two lovers reconnecting carries no weight without the audiences’ ability to relate to these characters. Thankfully, from my point of view, the characters are strong enough to carry the other elements of the film and provide an enjoyable film despite having some familiar moments in many other love stories.
Oh and one quick “WTF” moment. Elizabeth Shue, she has a role with maybe two sentences in it and such a small part that she is practically non-existent in the film. What happened to her? She’s still very pretty and I never thought she was completely terrible in roles that she played, there are far worse successful actresses in Hollywood. Just a minor thought I had to throw in.
I really liked this film. Tommy Lee Jones was by far my favorite because of the humor he brought to the movie but Meryl Streep always does an excellent job. Even though the characters were older, I really enjoyed the film because it showed a possible future for couples when they become routine. It was a very humorous and heartfelt story.
The film fell into the “chick flick” genre but it was a lot more genuine than many other films geared towards a female audience. It was one of the few films in this genre that actually depicted “true” love rather than putting together a series of surreal happenings that reluctantly drive a resistant couple towards one another. The main characters were very much a shell that anyone could fit into which made it easy for the audience to become emotionally attached.
Hope Springs – 8 out of 10.
A surprisingly funny yet heartfelt story with a superb cast…
Now on to the man point scale. I think I maintained my score after reviewing Magic Mike but no matter how good “Hope Springs” may be it does have a “chick flick” stamp on it so I will deduct 1 point from myself leaving me at 7 Man Points after watching this film.
7/10 Man-Points remaining