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I’ll be the first person to say that, in making a film about an elderly cast that is coming of age, directors often have a daunting task – just think of how horrible Rob Reiner’s 2007 effort “The Bucket List” was. This is a difficult plot to work around, but there are many elderly coming of age stories that need to be told. In many couple’s lives, there often comes a time where intimacy is lacking and when your surroundings just seem to be plain old methodical, a concept explored in David Frankel’s “Hope Springs.”
The relationship between Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) has certainly become methodical at the start of this film. Each day, after 31 years of marriage, Kay makes Arnold bacon and eggs for breakfast and also makes him dinner, during which he tells her a story she’s heard 1000 times. Arnold then retreats to the La-Z-Boy to pass out while watching infomercials on the golf channel, where Kay wakes him up and they go upstairs to sleep in separate rooms.
Steve Carrell plays Dr. Bernard Feld, whom Kay turns to in order to save her marriage, and to my surprise this guy actually possesses a bit of versatility as an actor deep within himself that the general public doesn’t routinely get to see. Kay and Arnold go from the rural flatlands of Omaha, Nebraska to a village town by the ocean in Maine called Hope Springs to seek Dr. Feld’s services, and to find the spark their relationship has been lacking.
This is undoubtedly a story of sweetness. Meryl Streep is without a question a warm person playing a kindly role, but even stern Tommy Lee Jones finally shows his soft side as the methodical plot moves along according to the structured ways of Carrell’s character. At some point in our lives, every person needs their life to be re-structured no matter how formulaic and seemingly “fine” it may be – exemplified through the willingness of both Arnold and Kay to go through the proceedings of Dr. Feld.
Frankel did a wonderful job of shooting this film and bringing each composition together. The intimate and romantic scenes contain an innocent sense of hilarity, displaying an honest love not often presented in romantic comedies. The cues of the soundtrack are also on point; any movie that uses Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” during its climax is usually good in my book.
You really have to be a derogatory asshole not to like “Hope Springs.” If you don’t, you simply are not a positive thinker, nor have you witnessed any of the many intimate complexities people go through in their lives.
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