Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones turn a potentially humdrum story about a couple seeking marriage counselling into a good-humoured crowd-pleaser. HOPE SPRINGS
Rated M ★★★ and a half
Stars: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
Director: David Frankel
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are the perfect combination as the seemingly mismatched couple of dulcet Kay and gruff Arnold in the comedy Hope Springs.
The movie could be a humdrum story about a couple seeking marriage counselling, but Streep and Jones spice it up with their charm and humour, particularly Streep’s coy smiles at the right moments.
In their 31st year of marriage, Kay and Arnold are stuck in a rut. Actually, it’s more of a rut for Kay, while Arnold seems untroubled by the fact they haven’t had sex for four years or that he falls asleep every night in front of the TV, watching golf.
Kay’s had enough (and hates golf) so pays for an intense week-long marriage counselling program to bring the romance back.
Arnold begrudgingly goes along, complaining about the cost of everything – even the cafe meals – and that Hope Springs has only one bar of mobile phone coverage.
The couple turn to Dr Bernie Feld, played by Steve Carell, whose deadpan delivery also provides many funny moments.
“It feels like we’re living in the house together but we’re two workers bunked in the same room; actually we’re not even in the same room,” Kay tells Feld.
She is crushed by Arnold’s lack of affection and Streep portrays these emotions brilliantly – from the moments of hurt in feeling unattractive through to the shy smiles when there’s finally some progress in the counselling.
There are many failed attempts along the way where Arnold and Kay attempt to get things back on track and although the story is predictable, the humour and fantastic portrayal of emotion lift the movie to a higher level.
“I think I would be less lonely if I was alone,” Kay laments.
One amusing scene sees Kay going alone to a bar while Arnold visits a museum after a falling out. Kay confides to the woman behind the bar and the result is a hand count of how many people at the bar aren’t getting any sex. Seems Kay isn’t the only one.
The clever mix of wit makes this movie relate to all relationships – not just those who have been married for a long time.
While it’s a story about 50 or 60-somethings, there’s plenty for all ages to enjoy and it’s Streep and Jones at their best – together.
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