This is a movie for older grownups. The advance screening was sponsored by AARP. Stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are on the cover of the August AARP magazine.
Can someone under 50 relate to a married couple that hasn’t had sex in over four years? I’m not sure whether many married couples OVER 50 can relate to such celibacy. But that issue is part of the problem that sets the plot of “Hope Springs” in motion.
Meryl is Kay. Tommy Lee is Arnold. They are a middle-class couple from Omaha who have been married 31 years. She picks up a self-help book by a marriage counselor and drags Arnold along to a small town in Maine called “Great Hope Springs” for a week-long session with the author. The counselor is Steve Carrell in a (mostly) non-comedic role.
“Hope Springs” is funny and poignant. The highlights of the film are Tommy Lee Jones’ hilarious facial expressions and a classic scene in a movie house, which I will not spoil by revealing details.
Of course, Meryl Streep’s acting skill is a given. Since she is playing an ordinary housewife, it may seem that she’s not working as hard as, say, when she’s playing Maggie Thatcher or Julia Child. No matter how hard she may or may not be working, her screen presence shows why she’s one of the giants of acting.
The TV spots make “Hope Springs” look like a laugh fest and, while there are some good yuks, this is a movie that reveals the problems many couples (of all ages) have communicating. While the four-year whoopie drought may seem extreme to many of us, there are issues in Kay and Arnold’s marriage that all long-married couples can identify with.
“Hope Springs” is rated PG-13 but addresses sexual issues that may make certain audience members squirm, just like they make Kay and Arnold squirm.
“Hope Springs” is not just for the over 50 crowd, but if you are beyond that milestone—especially if you’ve been married a few decades—this one’s for you.