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Film review: HOPE SPRINGS, from Built For Speed

Following It’s Complicated, Hope Springs is Meryl Streep’s second rom com recently that centres on a broken marriage. While it has its pedestrian moments, Hope Springs, is thankfully darker and funnier than It’s Complicated.

Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play a married couple whose relationship is on life support. Any romantic spark seems to have been snuffed out by their mind-numbingly repetitive and dispassionate lifestyle.  They don’t sleep in the same room and have barely touched each other in four years.  Streep sees couples therapy with relationship guru Steve Carrell as the only chance to save their marriage. Tommy Lee sees the therapy as an annoying interruption to his favourite golf show.

While the film follows the standard ebb and flow of the rom com, the two leads push it a notch or two above the usual level for the genre.  Tommy Lee Jones’ reluctance to engage in the counselling process or expose any feelings is hilarious but also disturbing, at times he seems like he’s suffered some sort of breakdown.  Streep, as the remarkably tolerant wife is, as always, a magnetic performer although it’s odd watching a movie titan like her playing such a timid character.  It’s also very odd watching her engage in some of the more racy scenes she has with Jones here.  While she’s the more sympathetic character, the film fortunately doesn’t depict her as totally blameless in their marital woes.

While Streep and Jones are excellent, the fact that they occupy nearly every frame means the supporting cast including Carrel don’t have the impact they could have.  Elizabeth Shue’s cameo as a feisty bar maid just seems out of kilter with the rest of the film.

This is a slight film for two superstars like Streep and Jones but their performances, a clever script that’s dotted with funny lines and the attractive locations in upscale Maine, make this a better than average rom com.

 

Nick’s rating: Three stars.

Classification: M.

Director(s): David Frankel.

Release date: 23rd August 2012

Running time:  100 mins.

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