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The trailer and marketing campaign for this film is another instance of
a collection of sound bites making a film seem like something that it
is not. This is NOT a geriatric sex comedy. In fact, I would not even
call it a comedy. There are some laughs, several smiles, but most of
the time I was in tears. If you go there expecting laughs, you may be
disappointed. I went there with such expectations, and I was pleasantly
surprised and amazed.
I am about the same age as the couple, and I deal with divorcing couples every day. This film is so real and true-to-life, with no big fight or over-the-top scene, which is appropriate since so many marriages end as a result of a collection of little unintended cruelties becoming unbearable.
I cannot think of any film in which Tommy Lee Jones or Meryl Streep gave a more astonishing performance. Tommy Lee going to a couples therapy session run by Steve Carell? The perfect set-up for lots of laughs, but then we realize the situation is really not funny.
Imagine a film in which Steve Carell has absolutely no gags, routines or funny bits. Yet I can't imagine anyone doing that role better. He was in another film dealing (in part) with a relationship gone bad, "Crazy Stupid Love," which was a comic take (and a marvelous film). Trying to find another film for comparison, the closest that comes to mind is Bergman's "Scenes From A Marriage." But I think this film about the same general subject is much more accessible.
I would have given this film a 10, but the soundtrack of obvious songs to underscore the plot became somewhat distracting. The song most appropriate here (but not used) is "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." The couple here would be from the same generation as Carly Simon.
I'm going back.
A slightly-over-middle-age couple finds themselves in more than a rut,
post-post empty nest. What to do?
An overly-simplified plot outline for a lovely, sweet, funny, sad, quiet movie that allows the cast's acting talents to shine. A great script with spot-on character development. None of your over-dramatics here.
We all know about Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones, but even they deliver some newness. But Steve Carell gives us a nuanced performance without the smallest hint of shtick. Notice Elisabeth Shue in a small part that delivers big. As well as Jean Smart & Mimi Rogers.
Don't miss this one.
It's always interesting to read people's reviews of movies and instead
of getting a review, we get a paragraphs full of narcissism, relentless
scrutiny, and disappointment. What reviewers have to understand is that
yours is not the only perspective on what makes a good movie, in fact,
The problem is, genuine realism is lost on those expecting the standard Hollywood-esque, brushed-canvasses, flawless plot lines, and riveting dialogue. Life is rarely like that and when a movie comes along that depicts some real-life humanity, with all our human idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities, it gets dissected because a few outspoken individuals are expecting reality as its portrayed in Reality TV and not reality as most of us know it, as it really is.
This movie captured the tenuous nature of intimate relationships and all the things we don't say to each other. It is uncomfortable for most of us to be that exposed and vulnerable with another human being, and that is what Hope Springs capitalized on better than many other films of this genre. The communication difficulties Jones and Streep exhibited were masterfully portrayed. The dialogue wasn't always fun and lively, but that's what added to the authenticity of the plot and the main developing theme. If you're looking for mindless entertainment, something easy to digest, there's plenty out there. If you're up for a healthy dose of reality and a powerful, vital message, then give Hope Springs a viewing. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Happy film hunting!
There is no feeling of being lonesome so crushing as being in a room
with someone, in a relationship with somebody, when the feeling is
gone. This couple, married thirty one years, have discovered this, as
some of us have at different times in our lives.
Tommy Lee Jones is the husband, marred down in his married life that has dimmed into something he feels will never be bright again. Never expects it to be. Is perfectly willing to plod along through life as is with his anger and dismay at how things have turned out hidden and suppressed. Meryl Streep is his wife, loving and longing to be loved, feeling that marriage should not be this way, no longer feeling attractive or appreciated. Willing to come out of her shell to try for change. Elizabeth Shue, who we don't see nearly enough of lately, was excellent. I have never liked Steve Carell so much in a role as I did in his part as the marriage counselor, trying to inflate this flattened union.
Many, many couples, married for decades will feel parts, if not all of this movie, in a personal way. I go to a lot of films and the number of people in the theater for the showing of this movie was more than I've seen gathered for an afternoon in the theater in years. I mean years. That's how infrequently we have a decent movie with fabulous actors come out, with no filthy language, no gratuitous sex .nothing to detract from a solid screenplay, a story well told and well acted. This one was exasperating, touching, amusing in spots, made you smile, caused you to shake your head ..it has it all. At the end of this film, everyone and I mean everyone was smiling, happy that they had come to see this one. Wow. That doesn't happen often.
Perhaps the young people won't see or appreciate the truth of this film so much, but let me tell you, the young are not the only folks buying tickets to movies. And every person with a few years under his or her belt, married to the same spouse for decades, will understand it and love it!
I am a single, 67 year old retiree, who has been married and divorced
twice; and this movie really touched me. It acted as a sort of
cinematic mirror to prompt me to reflect upon the many daily choices,
or even finer gradations of volition, that make up a healthy or
dysfunctional marriage or relationship of any kind. The movie was about
how we create our own heaven or hell, in the house, in the kitchen, in
the bedroom, and in life. We lose our grip on our passionate love
affairs almost the way that dust slowly collects on the floor. Didn't I
just vacuum that dust yesterday? That is how a marriage can ossify,
degrade itself, as if consciousness itself were shot full of some sort
of novocaine by sneaky subtle injections over the years, one feeling at
a time numbed.
Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell are excellent and break new emotional and acting ground for all three master actors.
The movie made me think about my entire life, and it made me reflect upon my parents' marriage, too.
Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal of Arnold, a man who has been an accountant so long he can simply function on automatic with his customers, not really giving his passionate self to his business- or his marriage, ran the gamut from acceptance of various ruts to various kinds of rage, embarrassment, and stubbornness, refusal to drop his pride, or make compromises that would have been in the best interests of himself, his wife and the marriage.
The camera does not editorialize. It shows Arnold falling asleep watching golf instruction on television. The camera directly above the frying pan and close up, depicts Meryl Streep's Kay, sizzling a strip of bacon and one sunny side up egg for Arnold every day, day after day. He eats his breakfast with his back to her as he reads the paper, then gets up, every day, and gives her a peck on the check without even making eye contact, and he's off to work again- like an unemotional little engine that could.
When Sisyphus pushed that boulder up to the top of the hill, his punishment by the gods, he had to watch it roll back down to the bottom of the hill whereupon, he repeated this process - for eternity. But Sisyphus smiled - at least according to Albert Camus, he smiled. It occurred to me that relationships and marriages devolve into accommodations, and that passion, like air being spent out the tiny leaks in a worn tire, can evanesce before either party truly, deeply realizes what they are doing, what they have done. The smiles in this movie are forced, automatic, defensive, painful. Boulders are not openly acknowledged.
In this movie, every scene is slightly underplayed. No line or gesture is over the top. Almost every word of dialogue is realistic. I never felt that I was being lectured or preached to. I did think that the background music was too intrusive several times, however, almost as if someone did not trust Meryl Streep to carry the emotional load of the scene - an error of judgement. This movie needed no such authorial or directorial intrusion - That is my only criticism.
"Hope Springs" is a movie about the ingredients of happiness or lack of same, and the finesse of the actors, the director, the cinematographer and the editors is magnificent. They never stooped to dwell on any sort of cliché dialogue or acting flourishes. It was believable.
I felt that the movie really opened up my life. I wish I had seen it 45 years ago when I married for the first time. It is that good.
Meryl Streep is a wonder, let's start right there. After her towering portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, an ordinary woman in real danger of disappearing all together. Real and enormously moving. Tommy Lee Jones gives us a face we hadn't seen before. Someone so settled in his ways that he doesn't notice what's happening around him. That's why, I though, his realization is so poignant. The film is based on a solid script but the direction is sluggish and uncertain to say the least. It feels as if the director didn't trust his material. The songs and the score, out of a Lifetime TV movie, doesn't allow us to connect with the real truths unfolding in the screen. That, I must confess, was very annoying. I recommend the film on the strength of the two central performances. Intimacy between two grown ups reflected on every look on every move until the score comes to interfere and derail our emotions.
There are movies that come along that fall in numerous genres. The
latest Hope Springs seems to be pushing the comedy but sports a story
that could easily be delivering the drama so going in is already
somewhat of a mystery on what to really expect. With a stellar cast of
Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell is there any way this
film couldn't work on some level?
Hope Springs follows a married couple who have grown apart. They head out to Hope Springs to attempt to rekindle their lost spark, but with a skeptical husband reluctant to take on the treatment is there any chance of saving this marriage? This is one of those movies that actually hit the mark successfully being both a comedy and a drama. When it's funny it hit a lot of really funny, sometimes uncomfortable funny moments. These are not a bad thing, but more uncomfortable for the characters in the situation thus causing a bit for the audience. What makes this film go from something pretty average to deliver something a bit more is the cast. Jones and Streep have both great chemistry throughout the film and feel like a real couple during the problem times as well as the emotional affection ones. This is their movie to shine and the emotional roller coaster they both deliver really makes this film work. They bounce around from typical married couple to acting like teenagers in love like only someone with their talent could do. Carell does a great job playing the straight laced doctor, but really only serves as a buffer to help this story of these too move along. This does showcase another chance to show he is more than just a funny man, but just doesn't bring a whole lot to the film, but what he does works well. The story isn't anything all that new, but will easily affect any age couple in a relationship that have experienced something like this from the emotional moments to the comedic ones.
This is a memorable cute heartfelt movie that is usually saved for the younger cast, but gives it this new twist using the older couple. Jones and Streep show that they still have it in both the acting chops and the love story delivering some unexpected sexual humor that elevated this movie just out of average and into a fun worthwhile cute film.
The plot seemed simple enough, a marriage in trouble, but when you have
Streep and Jones you expect a treat and the did not disappoint at all.
The scenes where they are sitting with the the therapist you can cut
the tension with a knife. You expect Streep to be brilliant and she is,
but Jones more than hold his own. It is difficult to play a man who is
unable to be vulnerable and he truly excelled.
Of course as with every cinematic experience depends on your state of mind and your demographic. The couple sitting in front of me were elderly and mid way through the movie the lady leaned over and put her head on her partner's shoulder and stayed like that through the rest of the movie. This movie does that to you, it makes you appreciate your partner more, you can almost thank them for putting up with our own shortcomings.
This is a real movie for real people ... Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones show why they are the best actors of
this generation. Their performances will be remembered this award
Here Streep forces Jones to examine the boredom of their sexless marriage. So what if they seem a bit old to be married only thirty years. Steve Carell gets the mostly stoic role of their therapist.
It's the kind of soft script, if it didn't get Streep it most likely would not have been made. Maine locations don't quite open it enough and it feels like a play. A good play.
You care about the characters, even if, at times it is difficult to forget you are watching Meryl Streep. It has a few laughs but it's actually on the serious side.
In a summer loaded with explosions car chases and various shot'em-ups, it is a pleasant change of pace. See it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a deep sadness in Kay's eyes the night that she puts on a sexy
nightgown and enters her husband's bedroom, hoping that he will take
the hint. She already knows what will happen. They haven't slept in the
same room in years. She finds her husband Arnold propped up in the bed
reading a Golf magazine, and when he looks at her, he assumes that she
has come to complain that her room is too cold. Minutes pass before he
realizes what she wants. Fumbling at her wordless suggestion, he makes
an excuse about not feeling well. We sense that this has become a
Hope Springs is a flawed, but intelligent comic-drama about a marriage that has slipped into a repetitive rut. Arnold and Kay Soames have been married for 31 years, and have been alone in the house since their last child left for college four years ago. Arnold is happy in his routine and Kay is too afraid of starting an argument to tell him that she is bored stiff. His life is perfectly content. He gets up in the morning, has the same thing for breakfast two eggs sunny-side up, side of bacon with coffee and orange juice. He goes to work, then comes home, has dinner, natters a bit about his job (he's an accountant), then falls asleep in front of the golf channel. He acknowledges Kay more or less the same way that he does the refrigerator. He loves her but seems to regard her more as a fixture. All around him, Kay wanders about her daily routine, trying to find some way to break it. The couple is at odds emotionally and physically (he hasn't touched her in years) until finally Kay has had enough.
One night over dinner she presents him with a bold announcement. She has signed them up for a week-long couples counseling session with a certain Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell) in Maine with money that she has been saving. Arnold's natural instinct is to give Kay's suggestion a resounding "Hell, no", but Kay is ready for this. She tells him that the plane leaves in the morning and she will be on it whether he is there or not. No points for guessing what his decision will be.
What you think will happen (based on a very misleading trailer) is that Hope Springs will be loaded with all kinds of classic misunderstandings, colorful supporting characters, pratfalls, and foolish one-liners in the service of trekking Arnold and Kay on the road to marital bliss. You'd be half-right. The best parts of Hope Springs take place in the therapist's office as the good-natured (and very patient) Dr. Feld tries to get Arnold and Kay to open up about where their marriage stalled. Arnold doesn't want to talk because he has long-since given up his emotions for grouchy indifference. Kay is afraid to talk because doesn't want to rock the boat, but the further that Dr. Feld digs into their relationship; the more he gets them to open up.
Not much of what happens to Arnold and Kay is a surprise. Hope Springs is an often complicated drama that draws them toward reigniting the fire in their marriage, but it doesn't get any more complicated than it needs to be. What is refreshing is that the plot is thin enough that it gets out of their way. This is more of a character study than a full-blooded story. There are no needless side-plots, no useless pratfalls, no unnecessary characters. What we have here is a very involving portrait of two people who have lived in each other's company for 31 years and now have to reestablish what it means to be married.
The most brilliant decision was the casting. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep are so familiar to us that we get comfortable with them right away. We can believe from the first moment we see them that they have been married for three decades. Streep, of course, is the most expressive of actors, always able to reveal hidden dimensions without uttering a word. There are moments in the therapist's office when she doesn't speak and we can see her thinking. But it is Tommy Lee Jones that surprises us (she's great, but he's a revelation). This is a very rare role for him. He often plays police officers and military men, but here he is required to play a man who must crack his tough exterior to be more of a sensitive and loving man for his wife. He's the perfect actor to do it, and knowing that Arnold isn't that far from Jones' personality it real life, this must have been a difficult role for him to play.
Most of the therapy deals with their sex life (they don't have one). Dr. Feld asks some very pointed, and often painfully uncomfortable questions in an effort to get these two to open up. The scene in which he digs under their sex life is played with blinding honestly and is made all the more uncomfortable by the director's wise decision not to undercut it with a musical score. Even better is the fact that Steve Carrell one of our best comic talents plays the role of the therapist completely straight. He is bold, he is honest, and he quietly hammers Arnold and Kay with questions that they are clearly ill-equipped to answer.
If there is one weakness in the film, it is the ending. The movie is about 20 minutes too long and gives us a happy ending that sponge-cleans all of Arnold and Kay's problems until they don't seem to exist anymore. A more life-goes-on ending might have been more appropriate here based on what has gone before, but still this is a good movie, well-written and well played.
*** (out of four)
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