Hope Springs Movie Review
The story starts when Kay (Streep) finally refuses to accept her dried-up marriage to Arnold (Jones), who can't see any reason to change things. She enrols them in an intensive counselling session in Hope Springs, Maine, with a well-known therapist (Carell), and after initially refusing to go, Arnold tags along. Their sessions immediately hone in on their nonexistent sex life, which causes both Kay and Arnold to squirm in their seats (and provides most of the laughs for the audience). And their small-step exercises aren't exactly a roaring success. But Kay is determined that she wants a real relationship or nothing at all.
As with The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, director Frankel finds real-life comedy in situations that really aren't that funny. In this case, it's the awkwardness of discussing sex and trying to reignite some lust in a long-term relationship. While Streep and Jones play their characters' amusing discomfort perfectly, it's the serious stuff going on under the surface that engages us, as we can also see the years of deeply buried desire and the pain of the distance between them. And Frankel centres the film so closely on them that all of the other characters (including Carell's) seem barely in the movie.
Watching these two fine actors is a real joy, even if the film never quite musters any actual energy or tension. We pretty much know where this is headed, although there's a climactic turn of events that catches us off guard. And aside from Streep and Jones, the film holds our attention simply because it's dealing with something important that Hollywood usually ignores. And it's not just relevant to middle-aged couples.