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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Hope Springs | Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Hope Springs | Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell | Review

Didn’t hope used to float?  Springing takes much more effort.

Longtime married couple Arnold (Timmy Lee Jones) and Kay (Meryl Streep) are firmly entrenched in a repetitious daily routine that contains no sex, but plenty of golf lessons on cable.  Their last anniversary gift was an enhanced cable package “for the house.”  Romance is just a memory.

The stagnant state of affairs bothers Kay as she dutifully makes Arnold a plate of two sunny side-up eggs and one slice of bacon each morning.  She finds him asleep in front of the television every night.  They sleep in separate bedrooms.  Kay wants her marriage back.  Arnold is comfortable on auto-pilot.

A frustrated Kay turns to marriage guru Benjamin Feld (Steve Carrell) in Greater Hope Springs, Maine for an intensive workshop to restore intimacy to the marriage.  The couple explores their frustrations, fantasies, and expectations during a week of counseling and “sexercises” with mixed results.

Stone-faced Arnold and sad, hopeful Kay clash before, during and after their sessions with Dr. Feld and the film follows their efforts to reconnect and reignite their once passionate sex life.  That means in bedrooms, hotel rooms and one movie theater.  They clumsily fumble with each other’s bodies, the landscape no longer familiar.  They talk about embarrassing issues with anger and sadness.

Kay finds the discoveries fascinating; Arnold’s discomfort is palpable.  Prepare for a bumpy ride in a land called Do You Still Love Me.

Tommy Lee Jones brings his stoic, stubborn persona and stuffs it into the unimaginative, pragmatic Arnold.  Meryl Streep is whispery and wimpy as the monumentally unhappy Kay, and we’re not used to seeing her this way.  Iron Lady becomes the lady who irons and washes the dishes, tends the house, etc.

Steve Carrell is the straight man here, surprisingly believable as the marriage counselor full of quiet encouragement – even when the subject is masturbation.

Director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) with help from a script by Vanessa Taylor fashions a romantic “dramedy” out of the material, made more credible by the caliber of his stars.  Although there’s no new territory covered here, Frankel’s stars capture an all too familiar phase in the lives of baby boomers with truthful poignancy.

The film will no doubt resonate with women more than men who might agree with Arnold that a great cable package is preferable to exploring a long-term relationship.

And certainly a lot easier.

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