Hope Springs is the romantic comedy, designed to go after the older audience, like 40+. An exploration of marriage and the comforts of being in a relationship with someone. This feel good comedy was marketed that way, yet underneath the promotion, the actual film is dark, serious and for the majority of its screentime, downright uncomfortable.
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play Kay and Arnold, a couple who are celebrating their 31st wedding anniversary. Over the years things have become complacent and the “spark” has long left their hearts. They sleep in separate bedrooms and conduct the same ritual everyday, Kay cooks Arnold breakfast (consisting of one fried egg and rasher of bacon with black coffee), Arnold pecks her on the cheek and heads to work, comes home where he has another meal served by Kay, then falls asleep in his recliner watching golf on tv.
Kay wants more out of her marriage, she is longing and desperate for the spark to be re-ignited, caught in such a desperate situation she books the two of them in for an intensive counselling session with Dr Feld (Steve Carrel) in Hope Springs, Maine for a week of counselling and to getaway from their lives. After be-grudgingly forcing the ever grumpy Arnold to get on the plane, the road to healing and repair begins.
Meryl Streep is fantastic in every role she plays, she has never faltered, and this role sees her live up to this consistent record. Streep delivers such a raw and vulnerable character that it is easy to see why this film is such a hit. You cannot help but feel empathy for this character.
Her interactions with Jones only build on this, you can feel the incredible awkwardness between the two characters as they routinely float through their lives together at home. The frustration at being forced into a situation where they have to talk about feelings and emotions that have been buried for years as they got caught up in the idea of marriage.
Carrel delivers one of the most outstanding performances of his career, he is not playing a joker, comedic role. He is serious, he delivers each line with such a sincerity and believability it is quite hard to grasp that he is generally a comedic actor.
The story is extremely well-crafted, this is not your typical rom-com, in fact I would not even put it in this genre. This is an exquisitely wound story that celebrates the idea of marriage and family and will have you laughing, crying and cheering these characters on as they attempt to understand themselves and in turn understand and love each other.
Hope Springs is the dramaedy we have been waiting for this year, with horrid attempts like “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” this film stands out as one of the most outstanding stories of the year. If you are a fan of the genre, then this is the film for you. Hope Springs is showing in cinemas now.
Review by Alaisdair Dewar