Hope springs eternal
A LOVE story of sorts no, make that out of sorts – Hope Springs ranks as one of the most desolate feelgood films you will ever see.
If you have encountered any advance marketing for the picture, you could be forgiven for assuming a sprightly little mature- age knees- up is in the offing.
Long- term marrieds Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones ( pictured) appear to be good- naturedly zinging each other through a series of comical couples counselling clinics conducted by Steve Carell.
Let the record show that the trailer, to mangle some advertising- speak, is all about upselling a downer.
For once you start watching Hope Springs, you will soon realise quite a different film is coming at you.
A slower film. A sadder film. A better film, too.
Two superb anchoring performances prevent serving up a wallow too hard to swallow.
Streep and Jones play Kay and Arnold, a not- so- dynamic duo who have been husband and wife for 31 years.
Kay and Arnold have become so comfortable in each other’s company that things have become downright uncomfortable.
Each day is a ritual, played out almost unconsciously. Kay goes down to the kitchen. Makes Arnold his breakfast. He enters, consumes same, reads the paper in silence, proffers a peck on the cheek, then hauls himself in the direction of work.
Arnold gets home from work. Accepts and consumes another meal from Kay. Falls asleep in his easy chair in front of the television.
Kay wakes him. Both move silently up the stairs. Then retire to their separate bedrooms.
Even with actors as skilled as Streep and Jones keeping their roles on the right side of accessible, there can be no denying the chill in the air whenever Kay and Arnold move past one another.
All intimacy is gone. The lines of communication are down. So where to from here? Arnold is not about to say. But for Kay, anywhere will do.
In a rare show of independence, Kay forces Arnold to accompany her to the town of Hope Springs, Maine, where relationship therapist Dr Feld ( Carell) has one week to jump- start the two stalled engines before him.
The daily sessions for the trio – sometimes funny, sometimes sobering, always awkward – form a solid core for the picture.
The softer, sweeter stuff can be found when Kay and Arnold embark on an evening to put into practice what they are learning from Dr Feld.
As uncomfortable an experience as Hope Springs proves to be – I’d estimate the content to be three parts hurting to one part healing – it is a work that covers its topic ably and insightfully.
Again, aside from a well- observed screenplay, the plaudits must go to Streep and Jones for warranting our concern, sympathy and affection throughout.
In their sure hands, Hope Springs is not so much a film that will grown on you, as one that will grow around you.
Now showing Village and State cinemas