2 new reviews were published – one from LA Times and one from Time Entertainment:
“Hope Springs”, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, is an unusually intelligent cut at the relationship game. And considering the age of its stars, it’s a rarity for the movies, which tend to favor youth in all things.
This well-considered look at a long marriage that has lost its spark proves that old love is as fraught as any teenage crush and sex never fades as a source of contention. Darker and coming nearly a decade after Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson’s middle-age flirtation in “Something’s Gotta Give,” Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) are the conflicted couple. Their issue isn’t how to date at this stage in their life, but how to reclaim what has been lost after more than three decades together.
Their therapist, Dr. Bernard Feld (Steve Carell), is about to become the bridge over those troubled waters. The question is whether they can, or will, make it to the other side. For a change, it’s nice not knowing for sure how things will turn out.
A storm cloud, or perhaps digestive discomfort, is always brewing on Tommy Lee Jones’ face. But he’s never had quite as many opportunities to trot out various shadings of thunder and constipation as he does in “Hope Springs” as Arnold Soames, the tightly wound Omaha accountant roped into the embarrassment of a week of intensive marriage therapy in Maine by his long-neglected wife Kay (Meryl Streep). The therapy, administered by the implacable Dr. Bernie Feld (Steve Carell) includes a lot of questions along the lines of “when was the last time you had sex?” and “what do you fantasize about?” If you could set a therapist on fire with your eyes, Arnold would do it.
Because it is summer and “Hope Springs” a big Hollywood production, tagged as “a comedy from the director of “The Devil Wears Prada”” there’s the expectation that Steve Carell and Meryl Streep trying to get Tommy Lee Jones to let his thinning hair down will be a laugh riot. But while “Hope Springs” contains the single best comic line reading of the summer—one of several priceless Streepian moments—this sincere and moving depiction of a polite but painfully inert marriage is more “In Treatment” than “It’s Complicated”.
It’s been nearly five years since Kay and Arnold had sex; essentially they flicked an off switch and have no idea how to turn it on again. But while they haven’t been making much in the way of beautiful music together, Streep and Jones are in lovely harmony, each bringing understated desperation and vulnerability to their roles. (Jones’ duties also include harboring a lot of repressed rage.) “Hope Springs” isn’t an exciting movie, not remotely—its narrative arc revolves around getting a couple on the far side of middle age to resume conjugal relations—but I couldn’t look away.