Admit it. You’ve watched couples and thought to yourself “I’d like to be a fly on the wall of that marriage!” In the new movie, “Hope Springs“, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell, you get to be that fly but you may just wish someone would swat you and put you out of your misery.
Now don’t get me wrong – the movie is great! But it’s uncomfortable to watch much of the time, which is part of its appeal too. Going just by the promos and poster art, you’d think this is just going to be a movie about an older couple trying to recapture some spark in their marriage. How cute. It turns out to be so much more.
Streep and Jones were painfully real (I wouldn’t expect any less from Meryl). Jones was willing to be ug-ly, both in looks and personality. He shows every closed off man out there that they can and should break out of that self-imposed mold. And Streep shows every woman who is lonely within her marriage that she’s not alone in her situation or her pain. Steve Carell plays their intensive-couples-therapist and is fantastically expressive. While trying to remain neutral and helpful, he can’t help but react to the roller coaster of emotions his patients go through.
I felt like I was sitting in the room with the three of them, mouth agape, looking back and forth between them all as the couple clawed their way out of their bad marriage only to slip back repeatedly. Slip, claw, repeat.
I loved that the characters in this movie are older, having just celebrated 31 years of marriage (by getting a new cable TV bundle – wow!). Their days run like clockwork, almost on autopilot. To the husband, their marriage is just fine. He provides for them and comes home every night, doesn’t he? What more could his wife possibly want from a marriage?! Lots more, of course, and so does he, when he admits it.
It’s wonderful to see a representation of older people longing for that dream (that hope) that we all have for a great love. It’s not just for the young and flat-stomached. Everyone longs for it, and finds it hard to give up hope. It would be great if younger viewers watch this movie and become aware of what can happen in their currently-sex-filled relationships if they aren’t careful. And I hope they will also think of their parents or grandparents and wonder what really goes on behind closed doors and in their hearts and minds. I can hear you saying “dude, T.M.I. on the old folks!” But really, consider that just because they are older, doesn’t mean they are numb to the joys of life.
“Hope Springs” is not a movie to go to for the fun of it. It serves as an entertaining, loving but cautionary tale. Go to be witness to what really goes on in marriages. And go to see the in-depth, very real performances of these three actors.
“Hope Springs” opens nationwide, August 8.