‘Hope Springs’ is the story of a couple married for 31 years who attend a week’s intensive counselling course in a desperate bid to put the spark back into their marriage. It’s billed as a comedy and it is very funny and ultimately feel-good but with ALOT of ‘ouch’ moments along the way. In any marriage it’s often the things that are NOT said and NOT done that speak louder than everyday actions and routines. In this marriage, s*x is the thing that is not happening and feelings, hopes and dreams are not being spoken out.
Meryl Streep plays Kay, the female lead, brilliantly blending hope and despair. Some of us might wonder how she’s put up with her inconsiderate husband for that long but her timid determination to have a better marriage is very touching. Tommy Lee Jones plays Arnold the crouch fantastically well. DONT walk out when the credits come up! And you’ll need hankies for the final scene that plays as the credits roll (yes, we blubbed).
The counsellor they see is played by Steve Carrell, (Evan in Evan Almighty) which means you do keep expecting him to say or do something comically bizarre but in fact he plays a perfectly serious marriage counsellor, asking some very, very intimate questions. (How did this film get a 12A? There’s no flesh on show but the conversations are pretty graphic, do NOT take your mother!).
I thought it was a brilliant film but I don’t think it will do all that well because although it’s funny, it’s just too close to the truth for so many couples who’ve made it passed the 25 year mark. I can’t see people flocking to see it which is a shame because it’s one of the best films about marriage I’ve seen in a while. After every talk I give on ‘Who Stole Your Sex Life?‘ I talk to many women whose experience closely mirrors Kay and Arnold’s, but maybe it’s not always the s*x that’s missing, maybe it’s the failure to share dreams, to encourage one another to change and grow but for all sorts of reasons marriages quietly wither simply because neither partner has the courage to say ‘I’d really like it if we…’ or ‘I’m sometimes disappointed about…’.
If, however, you’re brave and you know you need to have ‘the’ conversation with your spouse about ‘that’ subject: I’d prescribe two tickets to the cinema to see this film.