Director: David Frankel
Writer: Vanessa Taylor
Stars: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
I’m not a fan of relationship films. Frankly, I’d rather see a shootout or even be in one. But, pairing Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones? Meryl Streep’s had seventeen Oscar nomination and won three. Jones has been nominated three times and won once for his supporting role in The Fugitive. Many people do not think Jones has it in him to play opposite Streep, but I know better. I’ve seen almost every film he’s played in from The Valley of Elah and No Country for Old Men to all three MIBs. Jones downplays every role he’s ever had, but he always rises to the occasion whatever is called for.
The story’s simple, a wife (Streep) married thirty-one years is seeking more from her marriage. She signs her reticent husband (Jones) up for a week of intensive couples counseling.
Jones says about his role in the September issue of Esquire, “That character in the new movie, Arnold Soames, is just a little bit ridiculous. Just like you, and just like me.”
This film’s erroneously hyped by the trailer as a comedy. The near full-house audience for the opening was laughing, but most of it was self deprecatory or embarrassed. Both my husband and I saw a bit our ourselves on screen as I am sure many of the other attendees did. As Tommy Lee Jones so aptly says, “just like me.”
Marriages are hard. Most of them fail and the ones that don’t still hit rocky spots. Nothing’s more painful than putting yourself out there particularly when there’s so much at stake. Hope Springs took you to the bedroom and the analyst’s couch, which aren’t places many of us want to share with an audience.
I can’t say this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. The action was far too slow for an action/adventure lover. The action here’s as subtle as a posture or a position on an analyst’s couch. We’re talking deep here.
What I’d recommend this film for is a study of body language and acting. Even the smallest gesture here has meaning and both actors use those subtle clues to the max. The acting is carefully timed and so deliberate that if your attention strays, you may well miss an important cue.
Music was perfectly cued, fitting both the situation and the character’s ages. When Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together played in one scene, you could almost see the younger couple together caught up in the first blush of love.
Simple cues. Simple gestures. In many ways, that’s the lesson you can take from the film. Watch and listen to the people you care about. Learn their tells and understand what makes them tick before it’s too late. This film’s definitely worth the price of admission if you learn those things before you have to hit an intensive couple therapy session.
Rebecca McFarland Kyle, August 2012