Books Magazine

Movie Review: Hope Springs

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

Movie Review: Hope SpringsTitle: Hope Springs
Directed by: David Frankel
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: August 8, 2012
Rated: PG-13

Synopsis: After thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple attends an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship. (via IMDB)

Brian’s Review: To many an event film is a summer blockbuster, like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. To me, an event film is the end-of-year Oscar release, and, of course, the newest Meryl Streep movie. Since I went with a group of gay friends to see The Devil Wears Prada opening night in 2006, I have looked forward to the next Meryl Streep movie with great anticipation. I had a blast at Mamma Mia, enjoyed the complexity of Doubt, got super hungry at Julie & Julia, laughed hard with my mom at It’s Complicated, and took in a performance of the ages at The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep can do no wrong, and in the quietly moving Hope Springs, she delivers another fine performance as a middle-aged woman who wants to save her marriage.

The trailer makes Hope Springs to be a funny relationship comedy along the lines of It’s Complicated (a funny but unspectacular entry in the Streep canon), but while Hope Springs is definitely comedic at times, it’s also a very touching portrait of a marriage on the verge of collapse. Streep re-united with her Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel in this film, and for the first time acts with powerhouse dramatic actor Tommy Lee Jones, an Oscar winner who has played memorable villains like Stranix in Under Siege and Two-Face in Batman Forever. In a career of playing tough guys, Jones has rarely gotten the chance to show his softer side, and in many ways the surprise in Hope Springs isn’t Streep, but Jones. Streep is fittingly mousy and soft-spoken in the first half of the film, as she tries to speak up and finally tell her husband what’s been troubling her for so many years. But Jones is quietly devastating, delivering a subtle and effective performance as a man too comfortable in his mediocre existence.

Some of the best scenes in Hope Springs take place in an intensive counseling office, where Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) sit on a long couch and discuss their history, their problems, their sex lives, their passions and fears, to Dr. Feld, played straight by Steve Carell. Oftentimes director Frankel lets the camera just sit at a distance, allowing us to watch the behavior of two people who once found love with each other but are now completely out of touch with their feelings. The first scene in the office goes on for probably five minutes or more, with static camera shots focused on Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones giving a masters actor class. Are there any big surprises in Hope Springs? Not really. The events pretty much play out the way you expect them to. There are hurdles along the way, but this is a big studio movie: of course things will work out in the end. The movie isn’t perfect: an oral sex scene set in a movie theatre feels like something out of a different movie, and the final resolution felt a little too pat to me. But these are minor quibbles in an otherwise terrific anti-summer movie.

Hope Springs may not look like the kind of movie you need to rush out to see, but you should. I had such a great time at it, and I was probably the only person in the audience under forty. You don’t need to be old and grumpy to appreciate this story. It really is a movie for everyone! (Well maybe children under seven might be bored, but still.) And if you’re a fan of Meryl Streep, this movie is a sweet summer treat. She’s so good every time out you almost take her for granted, and we never should! But if there’s anyone who has a good shot at an Oscar nomination with Hope Springs, it’s Tommy Lee Jones. So rough and tough in so many movies over the years, here he gets to play sweet and endearing. It’s a revelatory performance by one of our finest actors.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog