You would think that when you put Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell in a film together it can only end well. Unfortunately Hope Springs shows that no matter how brilliant a cast is, if there isn't a great script at the stars' disposal the film can only be so good.
I was somewhat surprised by Hope Springs, as trailers seem to have painted it as a comedy about an older couple trying to save their marriage. I must stress that it is by no means a comedy and if you want to watch something funny you may go elsewhere. This is a drama that provides great insight into a relationship that has become less like a marriage and more like two people sharing a house.
Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) have been married for 30 years but since their two children moved out they have gradually grown apart – so far apart that they have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for four or five years.
There is no spontaneity in their lives and each goes about their routines while barely acknowledging the other's existence. One day this becomes too much for Kay and she decides they need to see a therapist. After a lot of humming and hahing Arnold agrees to go with her - even though he is adamant there is nothing wrong with their relationship.
Dr Feld (Carell) should have been a source of comic relief in quite a sad story but he wasn't and his counselling sessions only left me feeling sorry for Kay and Arnold. The sessions were dense, serious and probably a bit too realistic, so it felt more intrusive than entertaining.
Jones plays the grumpy old man excellently and all there is by way of laughs come from him and how his character complains about pretty much everything there is to complain about.
Streep is brilliant, as always, and she inspires empathy as Kay struggles to return her marriage to how it was when she and Arnold were first together. Her despair and frustration give this story a heart.
There is an endearing quality to Hope Springs which is down to the performances by Streep and Jones, and while I was unsure of how it would pan out, I found myself wanting to know either way. I'm a sucker for a happy ending, but there was a big part of the film where I was wondering if their characters staying together would have actually been the happy ending, or if they would have been happier in the long run to go their separate ways.
All in all, Hope Springs was OK; definitely not the worst film I've ever seen, but there was something forgettable about it. I imagine it would speak more to an older audience, who may be better able to relate to the issues raised. But, for me, there was no lasting effect.