Hope Springs 3/4

August 23, 2012 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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Hope Springs has the unusual distinction of providing a sample of what an Ingmar Bergman movie might be like if made for mass American consumption…writes James Berardinelli.

The production leavens the painful psychological introspection that defined the Swedish director’s best films with a more palatable lightness of tone. Hope Springs offers a serious look at the problems of intimacy that creep into many long-term relationships but does so with a comedic edge. Director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) wisely allows his actors to carry the production and they do so in fine fashion, treading the line between drama and comedy and avoiding the extremes of the depressing melodrama and the sit-com.
This is essentially a two-character story focusing on a married couple of 31 years. There’s nothing extraordinary about sixtysomethings Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones), who live the kind of lives that are commonplace among spouses of their generation. Arnold awakens each morning, has his breakfast (fixed for him by Kay) while reading his paper, goes to work, comes home and eats dinner, falls asleep in front of the TV, then goes to bed. He and Kay have separate bedrooms and, on an occasion when she attempts a clumsy seduction, he deflects her by claiming not to feel well. They are comfortable but do not interact in a meaningful manner, treating each other almost like pieces of too-familiar furniture. Although Arnold sees nothing wrong with that, Kay is becoming increasingly aware of a gnawing lack of fulfillment. So, in an attempt to save her marriage, she enrolls in a one-on-one workshop with celebrity counselor Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell) in a small town in Maine. Arnold agrees to go only after considerable cajoling and it is obvious that, from the beginning, he considers it to be a waste of time and money.

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