"Hope Springs" is one of those movies that takes a topic you don't think about, or at least, want to think about - a long-married couple in their 60s who have lost the intimacy they once had during their youth. It's a sore subject (an albeit icky one), and there would be no reason to watch it if not for the marvelous performances of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.
Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones), have been married for 31 years. Their children are grown up, they're completely devoted to each other, and their life is without stress. The problem is, is that Kay is feeling dissatisfied. Yes, there is a man by her side, but the man she once had isn't what he once was.
The two sleep in separate bedrooms, and have completely given up even trying to show affection - and Kay is tired of it. Day by day, she makes Arnold his breakfast, sees him to the door, makes him dinner, until he then falls asleep in front of the TV. Kay fortunately hears of a renowned marriage counselor in Hope Springs, Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell), who can make things good again. Arnold grumpily agrees to go, and before long, they begin to rekindle the days of their youth.
The plot could easily go down the tube as being one of those nasty, cringe-worthy raunch comedies that most actors would regret. Rather, "Hope Springs" is a sweet, pleasant, and fittingly entertaining exploration into the time in which marriage is far past the Honeymoon phase.
There are times where we get to smile, flinch, and feel sympathetic, and it works perfectly for the subject. You would think it would be much easier to sit through "Hope Springs" in agony, but instead it's a diverting watch, made even better by its leading performances.
Streep is thoroughly convincing as the quiet, kindly Kay, who is so nice that the fact that she is feeling so sad and lonely makes us feel a bit sad and lonely too. She's like the Grandmother you turn to for comfort, and Streep never lets us forget it. Jones is mesmerizing as Arnold, who on the exterior is hardened and manly, but in truth is actually quite vulnerable and worrisome. Streep and Jones are utterly believable as a couple, making the film work even better.
"Hope Springs" isn't the best movie its two veteran actors have ever made, but it gives us a chance to simply marvel at the fact that, even in such a small film, they are able to bring performances most actors would only dream about.