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Hope Springs

Hope Springs

Released 14 September 2012
Director David Frankel

Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
Writer(s) Vanessa Taylor
Producer(s) Todd Black, Guymon Casady
Origin United States
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Comedy, drama
Rating 15A

Golden oldies.

More or less everything you need to know about Hope Springs can be gleaned from the film’s poster. It’s one of those light, bright, pastel coloured affairs. In one picture we see Meryl Streep, twinkle in her eye, mischievous smile on her face peaking out from behind a book of sex tips; below is Tommy Lee Jones, looking thoroughly self-conscious and embarrassed. This is the default setting for both actors throughout the film as they play Kay and Arnold, a couple who have been married for thirty years. Though they live a comfortable life together, Kay has reached a point where she is deeply unsatisfied with their relationship - sleeping in separate beds and not sharing the intimacy they once had as a couple. Having finally reached breaking point, she enrols herself and her reluctant husband into a week long intensive couples therapy course, run by Dr. Feld (Steve Carell).

What is interesting about all this, is that the sex life of a married couple in their sixties isn’t something that usually gets a look-in in the realm of the romantic comedy. In some ways then, it’s quite daring in its content. How this content is executed though is occasionally too sugary sweet thanks to the glossy direction of David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) and the characterisation of Kay and Arnold. Streep and Jones aren’t particularly challenged with roles that are fairly one note. Kay in particular comes across as a little too good to be true and it’s a shame Streep wasn’t able to give her character a little more oomph. The Steve Carell role meanwhile, could have been played by anyone. We don’t see him outside the therapy sessions where he is nothing more than a foil for the other two actors.

Still, it’s a testament to the goodwill I have towards both actors that I was kept fairly interested throughout despite the repetitive plot (the couple are given an exercise, one of them is resistant to it in some way, they get past the barrier, they are given another exercise). All in all, it’s sweet but unsatisfying. Hope Springs has unusual subject matter and a great cast, but is not as memorable as it perhaps could have been.

- Linda O’Brien