Touted as a dramedy with its bit-and-switch trailer, Hope Springs is more drama than comedy, with it being every bit as fun as attending a week-long counseling session would seem to be.
Casting is perfect though, with Meryl Streep and Tommy-Lee Jones hitting their goals perfectly; she as the prim-n-proper and ignored wife, he as the somewhat lovable curmudgeon. Almost too perfectly; we’ve seen Jones like this so often we know exactly how he’s going to be long before he gets there. Steve Carell is toned down as a relationship therapist who seems to really, really want details regarding the sex life of his patients. But he plays his Dr. Feld so mind-numbingly harmless and straight that I wonder why they needed someone of his comedic muscles at all; he certainly never got to flex them.
There are some jokes sprinkled over the sadness, and both leads know how to deliver a line; but there are also great lulls of painful quiet desperation between them. The setup for their going to therapy in the first place is almost so cold, so devoid of emotion it’s almost unreal; comic in and of itself. And the small audience in attendance with me laughed only sporadically and uncomfortably – as though much of it hit too close to home.
The music also seemed a bit out of synch with the age of the leads. I imagined if the audience were also in their age-range (as no doubt many were) they would have a hard time knowing who Annie Lennox even was, much less relate to her music in the soundtrack. The end also wraps itself up a bit too abruptly and neatly for my taste. But if you enjoy watching a purposefully frumpish Streep masturbate or awkwardly attempt to go down on Jones a few times, then this is the movie for you. But I don’t like my porn that …mature.
Overall Score for “Hope Springs” from Rich Bonaduce: C-
“Hope Springs” is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content involving sexuality, and overlong shots of its two leads attempting to get it on
Directed by: David Frankel
Written by: Vanessa Taylor