Hope Springs (2012) 15A
Don't heed the trailer. In fact, if you're thinking of going on the back of the trailer, which is selling you a Couples Retreat esque zingerfest (or at least the zingerfest the Couples Retreat trailer sold us), don't. Hope Springs is more awkward, intimate and real than that.
Streep and Jones are thirty-one years married and all that implies: separate bedrooms; meals in silence; he crashes in front of the TV, she does the dishes; a morning routine down pat, he doesn't even look at her when she puts his eggs in front of him. In a last attempt to ignite some passion/life in their marriage, Streep books them into an intense and expensive weeklong marriage-counselling course run by a very straight Steve Carell. Carell sets them on a program of intimacy but Jones doesn't truck with this psychiatry lark and resists Carrel's advice at every turn.
David Frankel's (Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) insistence on using the typical ditsy rom-com music to lighten the mood, lest we take what is happening on screen seriously, is more than distracting. The approach is just ridiculous; the reason the movie was made in the first place was to explore elderly sexuality and intimacy, that we don't turn into On Golden Pond once we hit sixty-five, so why then would you go and try to turn it into just another rom-com?
'Try', yes, but thankfully, Streep and Jones never allow the lightweight tone to undermine the issue. Treating the topic with the seriousness it deserves, the pair can disappear into their roles: sometimes it's easy to forget you're watching Meryl Streep caressing Tommy Lee Jones' inner thigh (but then again, sometimes you're watching Meryl Streep caressing Tommy Lee Jones' inner thigh).
What irritates slightly at first, apart from the annoying music that is, is that Vanessa Taylor's script can be rather one-sided. She's the one making all the effort, he's the curmudgeon, scowling at what he believes are absurd suggestions from a supposed doctor, resisting her advances and loudly complaining in every restaurant about the over-priced food. But then Taylor comes good: when Jones finally comes out of his childish strop and goes on a rant, we understand that there is more than his surly manner that has brought them to this place.
Funny and touching, Hope Springs is a success despite the filmmaker's imposed fluffiness.
Review by Gavin Burke | 11:29 | Thursday 6th September 2012 | Movie Review
I really enjoyed this movie!Posted 12:11 | Fri 21st Sep 2012
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