Aneesh Chaganty

Hope Springs | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2012 at 1:59 AM

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Hope Springs 

(2012, US, d. David Frankel)

How is it that, despite a script that often tells the audience what the characters are feeling rather than allowing the filmmakers to show it, I absolutely adored this movie?

Over the past few years, director David Frankel has really proven to be a master of sentimentality. He hit it right on the head with The Devil Wears Prada and then perhaps a little too much with Marley & Me (though audiences weren’t complaining). And this year, I found his Hope Springs to be absolutely delightful.

Hope Springs tells the story of Kay and Arnold Soames (played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones). After 31 years of marriage, there isn’t much chemistry between the two of them anymore. Kay and Arnold sleep in separate rooms. The same routine is played out over and over every single day. Even their anniversaries are uncomfortable to watch. One day, Kay decides to do something about it. She enrolls the two of them in a week-long, intensive couples’ therapy – in Maine. There, Dr. Bernie Feld (played for some reason by Steve Carell) tries to help the two of them save their marriage.

Of course, as is usually the case, the main reason for my rave review is Meryl Streep. I’ve made it known quite a few times that I think Streep is the best actress to have ever graced the screen and once again, she proves it here. Her uncanny ability to transform into another character, without carrying any preconceived notions of previous roles (a task impossible to any other actor) is unparalleled. And with abilities like that, she often elevates all material she is in. 

Her performance, though, isn’t the only reason to see the movie. A simple story told incredibly well, Hope Springs takes all of 5 minutes to get over the fact that you’re watching a movie “about old people”. Its greatest strength lies in the fact that because of its specificity and honesty, it becomes a relatable and universal story. That’s not an easy task. 

Though the film does hit a rough patch in the middle, a symptom of having too much dialogue, the problem quickly dissipates as the turns in the story (yes there are a few of those) take precedence. 

Amidst the slew of films that rely on “bigger” and “louder” or “artsier”, Hope Springs stands out because it doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t. And by sticking to its own guns, the film really impressed me. 

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