Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hope Springs (Rhoades)

“Hope Springs”

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

During the movie I turned to my wife and said, “I feel like we’re in therapy.”
This was at a screening of “Hope Springs,” a movie about a middle-aged couple trying to put intimacy back in their marriage. Kay and Arnold Soames (outstanding performances by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) are couple who travel to a small town in Maine to visit a therapist (Steve Carell) … but it felt like they were just stand-ins for those of us sitting in the audience.
“Hope Springs” is currently in session at the Tropic Cinema.
Billed as a romantic comedy-drama, there wasn’t much to laugh about as Kay and Arnold face the difficult process of putting a spark back in their marriage. By spark, I mean sex.
Kay is the one who insists they go, missing the relationship she and Arnold used to share. He is reluctant to visit a shrink, angry that the sedate life he and his wife have slipped into isn’t enough for her.
Dr. Bernie Feld (Steve Carell in a very understated role) puts them through a series of exercises that he describes as “like breaking a nose to fix a deviated septum.” Painful to his recalcitrant patients.
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are at their frumpy best, an older pair who have settled into a bland and sexless existence. Sleeping in separate bedrooms. Falling asleep in front of boring TV golf shows. Barely speaking.
Thus Dr. Bernie.
This is essentially a three-person play – husband, wife, therapist – but a few background characters add to the story. Elizabeth Shue shows up as a helpful seaside bartender. And Mimi Rogers is a next-door neighbor who’s a threesome fantasy.
When I worked at Ladies’ Home Journal, our most popular feature was a column called “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Can Kay and Arnold’s? I won’t give away the ending in this journey that we take with the Soames family, but after the end credits rolled I breathed a sigh of relief that my wife and I had come through one hour and forty minutes of intense therapy intact.

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