Director: David Finkel
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, Jean Smart, Ben Rappaport.
Written by Vanessa Taylor
Running Time: 100 mins
Release date: 14th September 2012
It’s not often that I go to see a film and genuinely blush. This has all change since seeing the romantic comedy Hope Springs and it’s such a silly reason behind it. I saw this in a cinema where I was the youngest member of the audience and, to be honest, watching two of Hollywood’s biggest names indulging in some pretty fruity activities was somewhat shocking. No, shocking is too strong a word. Embarrassing I would say. Having said that, this is one of the year’s nicest surprises too.
Kay and Arnold have been married for 30 years and their relationship has become one long routine. Sleeping in separate rooms, Kay makes breakfast, Arnold eats it, he goes to work, returns home, they have dinner, he watches a golf show then they go to bed. No excitement, no tenderness, no love. Kay, desperate to get the flame back, discovers a doctor in the small town of Hope Springs who specialises in marital discord. Dragging her less-than-enthusiastic husband to meet Dr Felt, the pair start a series of sessions that might or might not bring the sparkle back into their almost dead relationship.
Reading the synopsis, you might be thinking this sounds like the dullest movie in town, but hold on there. While maybe not the funniest film this year, this is certainly the most delightful, thanks to the genius pairing of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones and a masterclass in reacting more than acting.
Aimed at a more mature audience, Hope Springs doesn’t fall into the traps of most romantic comedies in which some young, beautiful 20/30 something cant find love but then finds someone she/he despises and eventually love blossoms. The leads are in the twilight of their years and have already fallen in love but it’s no longer a strong flame, more a limp ember. Script writer Vanessa Taylor and director David Frankel have gone for a gentle approach to their story telling, while at the same time throwing in some more, shall we say, adventurous scenes. They also have the casting down to a tee.
In the less showy role of Dr Feld, Steve Carell is perfect as the straight man, the foil to the more experienced leads. He, in his usual Mr Nice Guy way, delivers the lines for the real humour to come flying back at him from the Oscar winning stars. Not taking anything away from Carell at all. He is perfect and its nice to see that a star like him willing to sit back and watch the pros go to town. And what pros.
Streep captures the character of Kay brilliantly. Longing for what she use to have and determined to get it back, every inch of her body is the woman. Willing to try anything to save her marriage, she shows her talent as a comedy actress while at the same time never taking it to farcical. We believe in her, he like her and we want her to get what she wants. It is another first rate performance from the Queen of the Screen.
If you want miserable, hang-dog, then Tommy Lee Jones is your man and his deadpan delivery with that Southern droll works wonders here and compliments his screen partner. The pair are so well suited together, you’d believe they were married.
The film works best when they are in conversation with the doctor. Try not to concentrate too much on what the actor speaking but watch the reactions. They are, without a doubt, the best silent performances in years and while the script might not be laugh-out-loud hilarious, watching two incredible actors really working hard is all the temptation you need to see this heart-felt delight.
So no matter how old or young you are, go see this refreshing rom com and be prepared to leave with a massive, goofy grin on your face…and maybe a blush-filled cheek too.