Hope Springs (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Hope Springs</strong> (2012)

(On Cable TV, April 2013) Obvious aimed at older audiences, this gently-paced comedy is about an older couple seeking to re-connect after decades of increasing neglect and disaffection.  Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones (as the estranged couple) alongside Steve Carrell (as their therapist) lend star-power to a premise that could have gone just as naturally in a straight-to-TV film.  As a comedy, it’s low-laughs, high-heart stuff, as the couple repeatedly stumbles while trying to reconnect.  The look at mature relationships is unusual enough to be interesting (consider the film as a companion piece to This is 40) but this is in no way a wacky-hijinks comedy, and in fact it may be funny only because it ends on a happy note –much of the film could go either way.  There are few surprises in the script, which means that much of the film’s appeal rests squarely on Streep and Jones’ shoulders.  Fortunately, they’re veteran actors for a reason, and their sweetly vulnerable portrayal of an old couple is almost worth the time it takes to watch the film if you’re a fan of either actor.  Both end up playing far lesser-powered versions of their usual screen personas, and the result has a hum-drum domesticity that is almost surprising.  Jones’ character is so broadly defined as to court caricature at times, but he still makes it work; meanwhile, Streep conclusively demonstrates the potential sex-appeal of a sixty-something woman.  Many younger viewers won’t have the patience, interest span or life-experiences required to sit comfortably through the film, and that’s fine: Hope Springs may work best as a film targeted to older audiences.  It may not be an overly memorable film, but it’s not bad, and it has a few welcome reminders that romance can be rekindled.

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