I had high hopes for Hope Springs. But the film falls flat. The story and the characters are certainly real and relatable. But as in life, real and relatable can be quite boring – even at the hands of a stellar cast. Meryl Streep is excellent (as always) in the role of Kay, a woman whose 31-year marriage to Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) has lost its spark and fallen victim to routine. They love each other. But they don’t seem to be much in love with each other any more. So they venture off to the small town of Great Hope Springs for a week of intensive marriage counseling by renowned author and therapist, Dr. Feld (Steve Carell). Carell plays it surprisingly straight, providing the set-up for some of the film’s more funny and touching moments.
Tommy Lee Jones delivers more emotional range than we’ve seen from him in a while, but if you’re familiar with the MIB movies (and his “K” character), then you might find it distracting (as I did) every time he addresses his wife, Kay. I guess it could have been worse. Kay could have been “J”.
Hope Springs is rated PG-13 for its ‘mature thematic content involving sexuality’. It’s basically a couple of nude scenes away from an ‘R’ rating. I’ll resist the urge to elaborate.
You’ve got your choice this weekend of two movies that explore marriage at two very different stages. The other being the R-rated Celeste and Jesse Forever. Adventurous Chick seemed to like that one so I’m inclined to check it out for comparison’s sake. Hope springs eternal that I’ll find it more engaging. I’ll let ya know. In the meantime, if you see one or the other or both, let us know what YOU think.