Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic content involving sexuality. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: August 10, 2012 Released by: Columbia Pictures
We know Meryl Streep is a great actress. We have seen her in Sophie's Choice, The Bridges of Madison County and The Iron Lady powerful roles about special situations or powerful people, but her as work as Kay in Hope Springs may be her best.
She is every woman married to Mr Average, Arnold ( Tommy Lee Jones) who works as a bookkeeper almost like Will Ferrell's Harold Crick in Stranger Than Fiction. Kay is not a special character she is someone many of us can identify with, living life is OK but after 31 years married to Arnold it has become so safe so routine she feels alone and lost with no one to truly share life with.
Everything in constantly the same she prepares his one strip of bacon and a sunny side up egg each day served as he moves into the kitchen with his brief case and newspaper. There is little conversation and no intimate excursions have occurred for a long time.
The ability of the two actors to perform without highlights or low spots in life is an art. They are not as separate from each other as the couple on TV who advertise insurance while the husband eats and the wife spends time worrying about her son. For many this life is fine, but Kay is ready to challenge the status quo and the challenge emerges when she drags him to a weeklong counseling session in Maine with Dr Feld (Steve Carell). The comedy comes there but make no mistake this is a film with serious overtones about two people who are likable but need help to turn mundane into adventure.
Streep changes Kay from a woman who is quietly frantic to one who begins to take chances. Some chances are not easy or comfortable
and she convinces us that this average woman has more life to give and live and is willing to reach out to make that change.
Jones appears more willing to stand pat. The sessions are uncomfortable for him and his halting ability to answer certain direct questions give us the opportunity to laugh. Steve Carell as Dr Feld does his career significant credibility playing a serious part, he has no comic lines he's the straight man who is always calm.
The hope doesn't spring quickly, there are failures in a bed and breakfast and at a movie, the barriers which have grown during the bland period of life are difficult to bring down. The climax of the story clearly demonstrate that. But it doesn't turn us away from hope that these two descent folks will find the passion and excitement of sharing life together again.
No matter what happens in the script to Kay and Arnold, Hope Springs will be around come the award season in January and February.