Meryl Streep has been balancing her heavy-duty Oscar performances with more mainstream fare the last few years. Since doing this she’s garnered her usual critical accolades and awards, while also proving that she can pull off audience-pleasing performances in lighter films.
Not to say Streep hasn’t been good in these flicks that have actually earned money. She is. And she’s been able to satisfy two different segments of her audience. I’m not sure The Iron Lady demographic is very similar to the folks who lined up for It’s Complicated.
Hope Springs covers her more conventional cinematic endeavors. She plays Kay a long suffering wife to Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones). The spark is barely flickering in their marriage, the romance is dead and the only reason they seem to stay together is out of routine. Kay wants to change that and rediscover the passion that drew them together in the first place.
Cue Dr. Feld (Steve Carell). Kay signs them up to his week-long marriage counseling session in Hope Springs Maine and soon her and Arnold are forced to confront the problems each other are feeling, have to decide how far they’re each willing to go to make each other happy and hopefully in the end recapture their marital magic.
Streep and Jones are both very good as the tired couple. They’re both likable characters and I wanted them to find the happiness that has eluded them. It’s no secret that Jones can be very funny and here he excels with his weary, deadpan performance. His uncomfortable and awkward reactions to some of the good Dr.’s suggestions are very entertaining.
Streep matches Jones as his spouse who is willing to do and try anything to bring them back together. She’s able to play out what could come off as some silly moments while maintaining a level of sincerity.
Carell is fine as the doctor. I was surprised by just how small a role he has. It’s almost a thankless part since the focus is really on Streep and Jones, who play very well off each other. Carell doesn’t get showy or in the way of them and he does what a decent supporting player should do and allows them to shine.
It’s refreshing to see the relationship of a middle-aged couple in a film. Hollywood is more apt to focus on young and viral people falling in love (I guess more of an audience for that – hence more money to be made), but the more adult stories seem to get sidelined.
It’s a very good cast. Some amusing scenes. It’s not a great movie, but it ends up being an enjoyable one.