Thanks to Roadshow Films, we had the chance to see Hope Springs before its Australian cinematic release. This is our review of the film – but as usual – no matter what we say; we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because: There is no better critic than yourself!
Directed by David Frankel (Devil Wears Prada), the film tells the story of a middle-aged couple struggling to reignite the spark in their marriage so they attend a week-long intense counseling session to work on their relationship. For years, Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have slept in separate rooms foregoing any physical affection so upon reading good advices from a book, Kay decides to pay for both of them to visit the therapist Bernie (Steve Carell) who wrote the book in a little town called Hope Springs (Maine USA)
Through daily sessions in his office, Bernie counsels them together by asking frank questions about their feelings and physical needs, as well as building up communication between them during arguments and silences. However, Arnold remains grumpy and skeptical throughout it all, angering and upsetting and Kay the whole way but he does open up more and more each time by partaking in the homework exercise set by Bernie to revive their intimacy. Even as Arnold arranges a romantic dinner and a night at a luxury inn, we thought this therapy session would wrap up beautifully until we realize they have much more challenges waiting for them.
Meryl Streep is magical as usual, playing an everyday woman yearning for affection perfectly in synergy with Tommy Lee Jones’s portrayal of the typical emotionally out of reach husband. They show great chemistry as a couple, making you believe and sympathize at their situation, especially when they fail to make a connection or rebuild closeness. This is enhanced further by Carell’s convincing performance as a marriage counselor, impressing us with his coolness, professionalism and understanding that we find he steals the show every time he is on screen.
Yet we must say the movie has an almost naïvely simple storyline as if the writers could not be bothered to develop it more. The plot is flat and predictable, a far cry from Meryl Streep’s previous middle-aged romance flick It’s Complicated which is not short of insight into love, relationships and marriage either. In fact, we can see so clearly of what’s going to happen in the movie sometimes that we wish we can sleep through it, had it not been the wonderful cast and acting turning something plain and boring into a worth-watching piece of cinema work.
On the other hand, the shooting of this film in a quaint coastal town has its appeals, especially for middle-aged audiences whose lifestyle choice and interest shift from urban to more local, scenic and ‘sea-change’ place, allowing them to appreciate the movie more in such settings.
Overall, Hope Springs is a fair rom-com flick for adults, mature-aged people and may we say it, married couples who can relate to such experiences in their life. It is no block buster movie but for those of you who want to watch something more in touch with our everyday life, you will enjoy this slow-paced, down-to-earth and honest-to-heart film. Plus, who doesn’t like a bit of Meryl Streep in any genre of movie? She is reason enough for you to see Hope Springs!
Although in our opinion, Steve Carell even steals some of Meryl’s spotlight in this movie!
Hope Springs opens in cinemas around Australia on 23 August 2012.