Sunday, August 12, 2012
Hope Springs? Nah! . . . Not For This Moviegoer
Maybe you've heard about the new movie Hope Springs.
It stars Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell.
It's the story of a middle-aged couple married for more than 30 years who's marriage is stable but monotonous, uneventful and largely devoid of intimacy, not to mention actual passion. They're kids are grown and they're empty-nesters who are now pretty much going through the motions.
Meryl Streep is the wife. She wants more out of the marriage.
Tommy Lee Jones is the husband. He's either in denial and/or is just fine with things the way they are.
At his wife's behest (after she's all but shamed him) the husband joins her at an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship. The counseling takes place in Hope Springs, Maine and the counselor is Steve Carrell.
Hope Springs is a picturesque but nonetheless suffocating little town. And the counseling is anything but picturesque.
Still, the movie is garnering good reviews and is being hailed as a wonderful "movie for grownups" that is funny, poignant, forthright and refreshing.
I don't agree.
The characters are largely one-dimensional and for the most part boring. They seem to have no common interests. Forget the sex (or lack thereof) for a moment. They don't seem to do very much together at all. We don't see them talking about books, going out with other couples, attending sporting events, visiting museums, going to concerts or sharing the kinds of experiences that might contribute greater depth or meaning to their life together -- the kinds of experiences that might produce thoughtful, invigorating, humorous or maybe even tender moments.
She works as a clerk in a women's clothing shop (apparently part-time) and tends to the home. She's very attentive. She even continues to make a full breakfast for him every morning.
He works in an office (apparently as an accountant) pays the bills and complains about the price of everything. He comes home in the evening, eats the dinner she's prepared, proceeds to the Barcalounger, turns on the TV and falls asleep.
There's no joie di vivre here -- no ummph.
It's not fun to watch two people simply going through the motions of life with little or no real contact. And then when they go into to therapy and are forced to confront the situation it becomes awkward, embarrassing and just this side of painful.
Maybe the movie needed more characters.
Maybe it needed added dimensions.
Maybe it needed to get its mind off the mechanics of the whole thing.
In any event, it fails.