Friday, August 24, 2012


By James Colt Harrison

Fans of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones will be delighted to see the two Oscar® winners united in the funny, heart-rending comedy Hope Springs from director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada). It isn’t often Hollywood goes out on a limb and makes a film for mature movie fans. This is definitely a film for adults by adults and it does not pander to the bubble gum crowd.

Streep and Jones are Kay and Arnold from Omaha, and their marriage has gotten stale after 31 years. Arnold is perfectly happy with his job as an accountant, his golf, and his snoozing in the TV chair after dinner. He sees nothing wrong with their marriage. Kay, on the other hand, wants to re-ignite the spark they had years ago. She’s unhappy and dissatisfied with what marriage has brought her. They sleep in separate rooms, they have no sex, and they don’t even kiss. Kay is in a panic to rectify this dreadful situation.

Jones’ character is somewhat gruff and grumpy and reluctant to change. Jones is a master at gruffness, and he uses his crotchety personality to produce many laughs at his antics. He hates the whole idea and his orneriness somewhat covers his discomfort in sharing intimacies of his marriage with a therapist. Kay gathers up all her courage to insist they go to a marriage counseling session in Maine for a week.

Streep is simply a master of subtlety, and her facial expressions are classic. She does not need to speak any dialogue, but her ability to get across what she is thinking is uncanny. There is a scene with bananas that is hysterically funny, and there is no dialogue whatsoever. Yes, she truly deserves the title of “The Bette Davis of Our Time.”

Steve Carell plays a very straight part with no comedy and is a thoughtful, mild-mannered therapist. He’s adept at drawing out truths and denial from both Kay and Arnold. Carell’s part is not intrusive and is perfectly laid back to make the patients comfortable with his probing questions.

The film is written from a woman’s point of view, being the work of screenwriter and producer Vanessa Taylor ( Game of Thrones) It’s her first produced film script, and she has done a fine job of creating a balance of comedy, pathos, and inspiration.

There’s a wonderful cast playing small parts that stand out. First and foremost is a very funny turn by Becky Ann Baker as a no-nonsense waitress in a Maine café. The beautiful Elizabeth Shue tackles her part as a bartender with gusto. Mimi Rogers essays neighbor Carole with sprightliness. And the wonderful Jean Smart is always lovely and plays Kay’s best friend Eileen. It’s a pleasure to see all these talented actresses dominating the screen even if only for a few minutes.

The film will make you laugh, cry and give you a lump in your throat. It’s human, it’s truthful, and its real life. Go see it and support an adult oriented story. Perhaps Hollywood will make more of them if we make this one a hit. Columbia Pictures/MGM.

ArtsNFashion presents "Welcome to Ramallah".  Coming 7 Sept 2012.  For Details and tickets visit

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