johnlink ranks HOPE SPRINGS (2012)

Usually, this sort of adult drama-comedy-romance hybrid is not a genre I seek out in particular. However, with a cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep, and Steve Carell, I figured it was worth seeing!


I watched HOPE SPRINGS (2012) on 7.14.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

Arnold (Jones) and Kay (Streep) have been married for 31 years. They have grown children, separate bedrooms, and an expired love life. Arnold is stubborn and callous, Kay is resigned and less than adventurous. Their lives have become an exercise and tedium. Kay, one day, decides she can not longer take and makes an ultimatum which leads them to marriage doctor, Dr. Field (Carell). The bulk  of the movie takes place in Maine around the week of counseling they receive.

I was a little worried about this movie through the first act. It sure seemed out to make Arnold a belligerent bad-guy. It felt fairly one-sided. But the further this played out, and the more we got to know these two, the better it turned out. Tommy Lee Jones is absolutely the only guy for this. He’s basically playing his MEN IN BLACK character in a real life marriage. It’s almost unfathomable when we see his truly soft-side at the film’s peek. Streep plays much more meek than she usually does. She turns Kay into a quietly fragile woman who ultimately earns her share of the blame for the problems in the marriage. Carell’s Dr. Field is surprisingly soft-spoken and unfunny. Seeing Carell’s name brings a certain thought to mind, and he certainly tries not to play that up. It’s still Carell, not much new ground here, but it a less funny and somehow more endearing Carell.

This is a movie which is partly and explicitly about senior citizen sex. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie tackle this subject matter so directly. It fills a niche which needed filling. Even if this is a Hollywood story about rich white people having sex problems, it still shines a light on a certain brand of marriage failure. I was repeatedly surprised at how enjoyable and entertaining it was while also being very clearly about how easy it is to become complacent.

95% of this movie is Jones, Streep, and Carell. And that is an absolute strength. By the end of this movie, as we have come want to love these folks, we just want to see it end happily. The movie doesn’t need to put obstacles in the way, thirty one years of marriage has done that. When it seems like it is has passed by all of them it adds one more in an organic and human way.

Even if I usually don’t seek this type of movie out, I’m very glad I saw it. This really was a nice, solid movie.



The bonus point is for the best-acted and most satisfying end credits scene I can remember. Maybe it was a gimmick to put it over the credits, but it works.



~ by johnlink00 on July 16, 2013.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks HOPE SPRINGS (2012)”

  1. It may not feature anything new or special that we haven’t already seen in rom-coms but what’s different here is that it focuses on the main couple, and nothing else. That gives us a great view of what it’s like to be an old couple, in a dull relationship. Great review John.

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