Gonna Get Physical
Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married for thirty years but after thirty years of marriage the romance has gone. They sleep in separate bedrooms and each day is the same with Arnold going to work, coming home from work, eating dinner and then falling asleep in front of the TV. And Kay has started to feel not only unappreciated but unloved so decides to enrol them in a week long marriage therapy course with Doctor Feld (Steve Carell) much to Arnold's annoyance as he likes the marriage the way it is and doesn't want anyone let alone a stranger sticking their nose in to their personal business.
As I sat there watching "Hope Springs" it reminded me of my parent's marriage as each day my mum would wake up my father, get his breakfast ready and pack his lunch for work. Then when he got home at night dinner would be ready for him and afterwards he would fall asleep in the armchair in front of the TV until my mum would wake him up when she was heading to bed. I would imagine that there are many who can relate to that as well as other aspects of "Hope Springs" such as having moved in to separate rooms in order to not wake each other up through to the home being more like a business where two people work around each other.
Of course that is the set up and what we get is to watch Kay and Arnold go to marriage therapy. But before we get that let me tell you quite simply why "Hope Springs" works and it is Tommy Lee Jones. Jones has this persona as an actor which is of a private man, it may have come from the characters he has played but the last thing you would think Jones would want to do is to talk to a stranger about his sex life. As such watching Arnold being grumpy and generally cantankerous as well as feeling awkward by trying to be more open is amusing because it is Tommy Lee Jones.
Unfortunately whilst the casting of Tommy Lee Jones worked the casting of Meryl Streep just didn't do it for me. For some reason watching Streep playing a timid house wife just didn't feel right and too opposite to her persona as an actress. And then there is Steve Carell delivering one of the most restrained performances from him I have ever seen which in itself felt weird.
As for what happens in "Hope Springs" well to be honest there was nothing I didn't expect but sadly vast gaps in what I thought was going to be there. What I mean is that the promotional stuff made it out to be a rip roaring comedy when in fact it is a lot slower and less funny than you might be expecting. In truth the lack of laughs doesn't make "Hope Springs" bad as there is plenty of natural humour but it is a case of again the trailer and so on making a movie out to be something which it isn't.
What this all boils down to is that "Hope Springs" is entertaining and in truth does a good job of exploring the situation of a marriage which has become set in its old fashioned ways. But whilst it has a lot of natural humour it isn't as funny as expected and it is mainly down to Tommy Lee Jones in an untypical role which makes it fun.