Monday, August 20, 2012

Hope Springs review; a depressing look at an aging marriage

This is going to be a short review because, frankly, there's not much to say. This weekend I decided to watch Hope Springs with my lovely wife. The trailers promised a tail of a broken married, marred by the sternness of a man who could no longer show his wife he loved her. Meryl Streep plays the wife yearning for an intimate marriage, and Tommy Lee Jones plays the man unwilling to give it to her. They go to a therapist (Steve Carrell) to get help. Let's go.

What I liked about the film:
Meryl Streep
Seriously, at this point, just give her an Oscar nomination for every film she's in. She does an amazing job of portraying this woman who is so emotionally neglected by her husband, she's ready to call it quits. When Streep cries on screen, you can't help but get chocked up. She really is spectacular in the film and I hope she gets nominated when the time comes.

What I didn't like about the film:
It's Just Blah
I left the theater forgetting what I had just saw. It's a very bland and subtle film. Director David Frankel is somewhat of an expert on character peices. He directed The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me. But I think this film just misses the mark. The entire movie is made up of the couple going to therapy and then trying to be intimate at home that night. Nothing really happens. And with 5 sessions for the couple to go to, it all becomes a bit repeatative.

I mentioned that Steep is terrific, but what about Tommy Lee Jones? He is fantastic in one aspect; he created a character that is old, bitter and difficult to deal with. That is where the actor shines. But there is no arc to the character. Yes, the film has a happy ending. But there is little to no mention as to why the Jones character is the way that he is. And his "turn" to a better husband is weak at best. Other than chatting with a co-worker, there is no reason for Jones' growth as a character.

And Steve Carrell. Oh my, Steve Carrell. Why on earth did he take this role? His character, obviously an important one, could have been played by anyone. Carrell's talents (both comedically and dramatically) are wasted. He is restricted to a chair resciting diolgue with the other two stars of the film. I was very disappointed.

The Verdict:
Probably better as a play
If the movie was in front of a live audience, I honestly think it would have been a better show. It's depressing and repeatative and does little to explain why the Jones character is the way that he is. I usually enjoy films with older characters falling in love too. For a better film with similar themes, check out Last Chance Harvey or one of Steve Carrell's best performances in Dan in Real Life. For THIS film, pass.

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