How to save a marriage

Hope Springs Columbia Rating: 14A 100 minutes

Hope Springs is being promoted as a comedy but it is more of a drama with occasional humorous interludes.

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play a couple whose marriage has fizzled out after 31 years. They’re locked into their routines; she the housewife with a part-time job in a clothing store, he the dedicated accountant who falls asleep every evening watching the golf channel. They haven’t touched each other emotionally for years, let alone slept together (they sleep in separate bedrooms because he snores). Streep wants to save the marriage while Jones doesn’t even realize it’s in trouble. She signs them up for a week-long marriage counselling session with a very serious Steve Carell as the therapist.

Much of this film is predictable, including the Hollywood ending, but what makes it worth watching are the two lead performances and the surprisingly nitty-gritty sessions on the therapist’s couch. Sex and intimacy are seldom handled well in American films and even here there’s sometimes an element of adolescent gawking. However, the sessions with Carell are impressively adult, mature and revealing.

Streep’s performance, of course, is bang on, as one would expect. More of a surprise is Jones’s performance. It’s a different kind of role for him, and although he plays the unfeeling jerk too strongly at first, he does a great job of capturing the typical North American male’s ability to avoid discussing feelings.

It is also nice to see a Hollywood movie aimed at people over 40.

Rating: four deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.