Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Movie with Abe: Hope Springs

Hope Springs
Directed by David Frankel
Released August 8, 2012 / DVD December 4, 2012

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are easily two of the most revered actors of their generation. Streep has managed to earn more Oscar nominations than any other thespian, earning five of them in the last ten years alone, proving that she continues to become even more talented as she grows older. Jones has similarly done great work recently, delivering a standout performance in this year’s “Lincoln” that’s sure to earn him an Oscar nomination. They’re the obvious choices for a film about two older people struggling to find whatever they once had in a marriage devoid of passion.

At its inception, “Hope Springs” seems like a comedy, with shy Kay (Streep) and grumbling Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) traveling to a quaint Maine town to meet with an eccentric author, Doctor Feld (Steve Carell), renowned for his ability to help couples rekindle their past love. Arnold does make infinite degrading jokes about the expensive nature of the town, and Kay is put into awkward situations where she contemplates a sexual act in a public place and then finds it more difficult to pull off than initially anticipated.

Yet “Hope Springs” is not really a comedy, filled with mildly funny moments, but ultimately more about one couple trying to determine if in fact they should be together. It’s hardly meant to be a serious drama, and instead the film falls somewhat flat, incapable of reeling in the audiences with its generally unexciting characterizations, namely Kay’s sheepishness and Arnold’s gruffness. They’re still decently engaging to watch, but it’s hard to root for either one of them since they’re not terribly dynamic characters, not nearly as compelling as many of the comic or dramatic personalities that Streep and Jones have played over the years.

The casting of Steve Carell also represents a missed opportunity. The funnyman had his star-making roles in comedies “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and TV’s “The Office,” and while he has since undertaken some more dramatic roles in comedy projects, like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Dan in Real Life,” his skills really lie in comedy. Even if this was a dramatic part, it’s a very straightforward one, and Carell could have been used to much better use. Streep and Jones do the best they can with what they’re given and deliver a few laughs, but it’s disappointing to watch the finished project given what could have been with this cast and premise.


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