Comedy Movies, by Mike Richardson, 23 September 2012

Director: David Frankel

Stars: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell

Country: USA

Runtime: 100 min

Release Date:

Language: English

We’ve had ad nauseum of tween and twentysomething “comedies” and now the elder generation get their crack of the sexual whip as Hope Springs takes a look at sex in the autumn of one’s life. Our heroes Kay and Arnold (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) are a middle-aged couple with a marriage in decline, who are now sleeping in separate rooms and barely relate in any meaningful way, although Arnold sees nothing wrong with their 30 year marriage.

Hope Springs

Hope Springs

Kay has had enough of not having anything and signs them up for an intense week long marriage counselling session with a Dr Feld, on a course of couples’ therapy at the seaside town of Great Hope Springs, hence the title. Grumpy Arnold begrudgingly agrees to go on the excursion. Dr. Feld is played by Steve Carell without any of the gurning shtick that his low brow fans might expect. His performance is considerably more subtle and it has to be, because Arnold flips out at the mere mention of “y’know” thingy. The tension between the unhappily married couple is a constant source of amusement and the wife’s reactions in their sessions, from weary to quietly desperate, is both humorous yet tear-jerking.

Arguably, the analysis doesn’t lead to any great revelations for Kay and Arnold and, in the end the husband is kicked into action more by fear than any newfound sense of self-awareness. Kay is a meek character, but the performance from Streep never leads her down a road of self-pity. Craggy faced Jones is more than a match for Streep, in both the acting and the comedy stakes.

Hope Springs manages to be a non-saccharine experience for the viewers as we see the couple begin to understand how they have drifted apart and what they need to do to reignite their passion and save their marriage. Even with the DR Feld’s advice, Kay and Arnold find that reigniting their marital fire is a daunting challenge for both of them.

This film pushes the boundaries when it comes to showing the sexual desires (and shortcomings) of an older couple, the biggest fault with the film is that it won’t get a wider audience as the under thirty demographic are unlikely to flock to see a film that reminds them that their parents might be having sex, the Yummy Mummy 50 Shades brigade will be too busy getting worked up about thoughts of bespoke BDSM, and the type of husband that Jones portrays will be off playing a round (of golf).

What you get with Hope Springs is a unexpectedly saucy comedy drama and big credit has to go to director David Frankel (who cast Streep in The Devil Wears Prada) and handles the tittersome subject matter like a grown up, as is befitting for the content. Frankel doesn’t make his leading lady stoop too low for laughs, instead paints an intriguing picture of married life and middle age.

Hope Springs Trailer

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