By Kate Rodger
One of my Top Ten Film3 Rules of Cinema is: Anything with Meryl Streep on the bill is worth the ticket price.
Hope Springs is her latest outing, and from the same director (David Frankel) who talked her into her hilarious Oscar-nominated performance as fashion super-bitch Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.
This time around her wardrobe is more Country Road than Prada, and the role a far more vulnerable and intimate one.
Streep is Kay. After 30 years of marriage, the kids all grown up, Kay is struggling to remember her stale marriage as a happy one. She decides to do something about it, enrolling them both in a week-long “holiday” of couple’s counselling courtesy of Steve Carell’s shrink Dr Feld. Her husband is not impressed.
In a surprising casting move, its fellow Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones who plays Kay’s distracted curmudgeonly, penny-pinching husband Arnold. Well-known for his gruff, masculine characters, and for films like The Fugitive and No Country for Old Men, I’d argue this might be one of his most challenging roles yet. No stone is left unturned, whether it be their sex-lives or their finances, as the couple’s floundering almost loveless marriage undergoes an intensive overhaul, Arnold dragged kicking, screaming and whinging all the way.
The minute Kay and Arnold arrive in the little hamlet of Hope Springs, and sit down on Dr Feld’s therapy couch, it becomes abundantly clear and very quickly that this is a marriage badly in need of a helping hand. The very last person prepared to accept that helping hand, is Arnold. And as for discussing his sex life with a total stranger? Are you INSANE?!
Here’s where things get slightly more challenging for the couple, and for us as the audience. Our beloved Meryl Streep talking about blowjobs, masturbation, threesomes and orgasms? Is the world ready? Or are we so ageist, that the very idea of anyone over the age of 45 having sex, and on the big screen, just isn’t Hollywood?
It’s easy to see how a therapy-friendly people like the Americans would fall head over heels for Hope Springs, even seeing the film as couples counselling in itself. And it’s hard not to give the film a big tick for that reason alone. Problem is, paying for 2 hours of therapy is a very different prospect than paying for 2 hours of entertainment, and I was left wondering if Kiwi couples would be as generous in their response, or just feel a little uncomfortably voyeuristic witnessing such intimate relationship problems being played out on the big screen.
No arguing with the authenticity of the premise, their relationship and the characters, especially delivered by such class team of actors like Streep, Jones and Carell. I just really felt the need for a lighter more cinematic touch with its delivery, a little more humour when suitable to sell the big scenes, but with less use of the soundtrack to sign-post the next emotional trigger point.
Hope Springs could easily hit a home run with a goodly portion of those north of 50 who sign up for it, and I’d pick a healthy percentage of those will be women. Their challenge will be getting their husbands along for Date Night.
Last Days Here
:: Director: David Frankel
:: Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
:: Running Time: 100 mins
:: Rating: M - Sexual references
:: Release Date: August 23, 2012
:: Trailer: Watch here
source: newshub archive