Review: HOPE SPRINGS

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

 

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones exercise their exceptional acting skills by portraying a middle-aged married couple whose relationship has grown beyond stale.  These two tremendous talents and the effective writing skills of Vanessa Taylor are the reasons to spend some hard earned dollars on a film which probably won’t garner much attention as the summer blockbuster season begins drawing to a close.  A drama with just the perfect dash of comedy, Hope Springs feels like the summer movie alternative adults will appreciate during a season filled with the typical super-heroics, action and explosions. 

Streep and Jones portray Kay and Arnold Soames, a couple who has endured marriage for thirty years, but has run out of steam.  Feeling sad, unloved and missing the passion their relationship once had, Kay pressures Arnold to attend an intensive couples counseling session by marriage expert Dr. Bernie Feld (Steve Carell).  Dr. Feld helps Kay and especially Arnold face some of the more uncomfortable issues in their marriage. These problems involving honesty and intimacy come to a head as Kay and Arnold go through some of the exercises with which Dr. Feld challenges them.

Director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) does a fine job here with Taylor’s script which realistically recreates the problems faced by most married couples.  Granted the resolution does play out somewhat predictably, but the conflict does build up quite strongly and kept me engrossed and invested in this fictional relationship and its characters.  I feel that those who have had troubled marriages and relationships will connect with the problems that Kay and Arnold face.

Without the resplendent performances of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, these characters would not have felt as genuine and true to life.  Streep is so incredibly sweet, lovable and never less than poignant as a miserable wife who still wants to love her husband and feel loved like in the early years of their marriage.  I cannot see anyone more perfect for the role of the gruff, cold, and often petrified husband who refuses to admit his marriage is in trouble.  In some truly wonderful scenes, Jones shows an honest vulnerability as his character finally begins to deal with his own personal fears and self-imposed obstacles.  Steve Carell acts adequately in the role of the counselor; however, his character feels underwritten and a tad cliché. Unfortunately, he isn’t given much to do here.  He has much more talent and doesn’t really get the chance to show his range with this limited role.

With some slightly strong relationship and sexual material, I would not recommend bringing the young kids to this film.  The movie offers a genuine and astute representation of real life marriages and the struggles often faced by couples.  Frankel and Taylor’s film offers an adorably sweet and touching look into true love and the things people must do to keep that love alive and well.

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