It was hot here in NorCal today and a new movie was out so I asked RR it he wanted to catch the matinee of Hope Springs. Shocker! He said yes. Mind you, we seldom get to the movies - lots of reasons, the biggest one being that there is very little out there that I want to see. But this movie, billed as a comedy, has Merle Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell in it. How can you go wrong? Let me count the ways.
It is billed as a comedy / drama but I saw it as more of a drama with some funny lines. Steve Carell plays an objective therapist. There really is nothing funny about his role at all. He doesn't act goofy or weirdo. Some people who are not familiar and/or are frightened by therapy might think some of what he says is funny but really? it's not. He asks questions and makes an occasional observation. His character is simply a mellow, believable therapist who asks questions. Of course, the premise is skewed. A marriage of 31 years is not going to be fixed in three sessions with a marriage counselor. A lot of the movie plays on the notion of sex as the cure all for long term marriage. Sex can be made into a funny topic. It can also play out its identity as an uncomfortable topic that makes people laugh at what might be true. What is emphatically not funny is the loneliness that Meryl Streep's character feels and the palatable distance in that marriage. The character played by Tommy Lee Jones is not so far off the mark as far as being oblivious. Streep's character is an extreme but so is the character played by Tommy Lee Jones. But Tommy Lee's character is more believable to me. I think I know him. Streep's character is painfully sad. Her loneliness actually gets named. Her invisibility is so oddly clear.
Of course, everything wraps up unrealistically and predictably at the end. It is Hollywood after all. I don't think it's uplifting. It wasn't a huge bummer or anything, mostly just a disappointment or not what I was expecting. As with movies everywhere and all the time, it takes a very complex topic and brings it to its simplest form. There is tragedy in a long term marriage that has grown distant and I am upset that the movie makes this marriage a target of humor. How is the loneliness and emptiness funny? I suppose I also need to acknowledge that I may be too close to the topic...
Anyway, that's my movie review for the year. If you've seen it, tell me what you think.