Customer Reviews: Hope Springs
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon October 2, 2012
Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell prove their worth as actors in roles they seldom play, but they all did a stellar job. As usual for these box-office hit professionals. Carell as Dr. Feld who takes a week to turn a stagnant 31-yr-old marriage on it's un-bridled love heals. Kay and Arnold are the couple who have to face marriage sexual reality in front of a shrink. Viewers feel as awkward as the characters are portrayed. Good acting makes this good story achieve greatness.

It's scenic, since the Omaha couple travel to Great Hope Springs, Maine for the intense week of therapy. And it's quite believable. It's emotional, like the struggles and high points of a real marriage after 31 years. In Feld's office, it goes from pathetic to comic. Intense to relief. Moments of endearment and others where the revelations become loud and in-your-face. Sometimes I wished I could hide myself, other moments I squeezed my wife's knee. She watched in the theater seat beside me. She immediately informed me we must buy the DVD when available.

OK, it's not for all. It's targeting older, mature viewers.
Teens will growl "gross" during the clothed sex scenes.
Young marrieds may envision their parents or grandparents.
Ladies 40 & over will find it lusciously romantic.
Older men will/can learn a few tips to sweeten your own sweetie. Works for me, 64 and alive.
Anyone calling this well acted encounter "far fetched" just isn't old enough to have been there...yet.
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When I saw Meryl Streep play the seemingly facile Omaha housewife she portrays in this 2012 marital dramedy, I had an immediate flashback to an underrated romantic drama she did almost thirty years ago, Ulu Grosbard's Falling in Love (1984), in which she played a young married woman who couldn't help falling for a married architect (Robert De Niro) on a commuter train. I kept thinking of Kay as that earlier character all these years later trying to fan the embers of the passion that erupted so unpredictably back then. Interestingly, her younger character could not consummate the affair either but fell hopelessly in love anyway. Director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) and first-time screenwriter Vanessa Taylor travel to the opposite end of the marital spectrum, a 31-year-old marriage that finds Kay and her accountant husband Arnold sleeping in separate bedrooms having long ago lost any sense of intimacy and passion their marriage once had. The film begins with a seriocomic preface in which Kay awkwardly tries to seduce Arnold, an invitation he rebuffs with the flimsiest of excuses. Knowing their marriage is on auto-pilot, she fears being alone emotionally and ending their lives in emotional isolation now as they go through the motions in their sixties.

An optimist despite the odds, Kay signs them up for a week of intensive couples therapy in Great Hope Springs, Maine, where renowned therapist Dr. Bernie Feld practices. Arnold is predictably resistant but begrudgingly accompanies her when he realizes how serious Kay is about the counseling. The sessions with Dr. Feld initially don't go well with Arnold protesting the doctor's every recommendation for building intimacy in his relationship with Kay. This is when the movie becomes the most surprising because every time a physically awkward moment presents itself, the feelings become heartfelt and sometimes humorous in unexpected ways. While Frankel and Taylor handle the slim story turns with genuine insight, it's the masterful work of Streep and Tommy Lee Jones that elevates the film into an experience that far transcends the Lifetime-TV orientation you would expect otherwise. Unafraid to come across as harshly judgmental, Jones has made a career of playing dyspeptic curmudgeons, so it's nice to see him gradually reveal Arnold's vulnerabilities with skill and delicacy. He has to play Arnold close to the vest but not so insular as to make you wonder what Kay saw in him in the first place. After tackling larger-than-life figures like Julia Child and Margaret Thatcher, Streep is splendid portraying a sheltered woman who contributes as much to the fossilized, inchoate marriage as Arnold does.

At 63, the actress allows herself to look even beyond her age, but she's still beautiful in a shopworn way. I love how she almost swallows every word she speaks as if Kay's tentative nature is holding back grand expectations of a romance she can only fantasize about. The two veteran actors have a natural rapport that gives the viewer a rooting interest in seeing them overcome their age-old emotional and physical barriers. There are moments between them especially in the film's last third that are quite heartbreaking, especially when they come to learn that they aren't the people they believed themselves, or each other, to be. Steve Carell plays Feld straight-up without an iota of irony, and his clinical approach works effectively within this context. The rest of the supporting cast makes very little impact, including Jean Smart as Kay's sassy manager at the Coldwater Creek she works part-time, Elisabeth Shue as an equally sassy barmaid counseling Kay on sex, and Mimi Rogers as the final payoff of a joke about a comely (and yes, sassy) neighbor with a trio of corgis. The young actors who play Kay and Arnold's adult children are barely present, but I'm sure that was part of the intention in order to allow complete focus on the couple. Frankel overdoes the soundtrack music when moments of silence would have been far more effective, but otherwise, the tone feels spot-on.
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on December 6, 2012
I took my mom and sister to see this. Purposely put my sister between me and my mom (I had read it was more drama than comedy. And I had heard about the theater scene). Within 5 minutes I was choking up. Don't get me wrong, there are times of absolute hilarity, the audience was roaring with laughter at a lot of scenes. However, it just struck me as a more realistic portrayal of life. Honest. Everyone's hopes, dreams, wishes.....and the inevitable feeling of those dreams drifting away. But then resulting in a journey of acceptance and love. For me it was an emotional kick in the gut. Maybe that's just me. But this film made me a blubbering idiot. If you have parents that are getting up there in age, and you are feeling this creeping up on yourself as well, fair warning. Do not let this film bypass you. Meryl Streep tore at my heart. Amazing, seemingly effortless work by her. Yes, her again. For those who criticize her work as being too, for lack of a better word, "studied" or "educated", you can throw that out the window with this. Just her facial expressions killed me, no words, just an everyday person's feelings flowing across her face. So realistic. Tommy Lee Jones---hilarious, heartbreaking, a performance that was every bit as realistic. He was awesome. Even though I had tears running down my face practically the entire time, I'm getting this DVD. Can't wait to see it again---but in the privacy of my own home---where no one can see me balling my eyes out. I'm a wuss. Rating: A
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on October 29, 2012
Reviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Victoria B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.

I went to see this movie with my mom and she was freaking out and covering my eyes in some parts, I thought it was funny and that she was overreacting. After the movie I had to remind her that I am fourteen. This movie is about a married couple of thirty-one years, Kay (played by Merryl Streep) and Arnold (played by Tommy Lee Jones) who love each other so much, but have not been affectionate or intimate with each other in many years. They even sleep in separate rooms, and on anniversaries they get gifts not for each other, but for the house. Kay gets sad at the reality that she and her husband do not have a real relationship. So she gets a book about marriage and calls the couple's counselor and schedules the intense therapy to fix her marriage. At first Arnold refuses to go, but then reconsiders when Kate leaves without him, then reluctantly he goes with her because he does not want to lose her. All throughout the movie Arnold is uncomfortable with therapy, and especially the intimate tasks assigned by Dr. Fields (played by Steve Carrell). While Kay really wants to have a "real" relationship, Arnold is tentative and they battle with this throughout the whole movie. This movie was very sweet in a weird way because it is based around an older and very in love couple that struggles with intimacy and I guess for a young audience, that visual would gross them out. The soundtrack in this movie reminded me of music in a silent film because music is included in most scenes and they describe the scene, even if the words are not there. Tommy Lee Jones is very versatile as an actor. I have never seen him play a domestic character or anyone in a relationship, it is refreshing and he does a great job. This movie makes me see the power in love and determination to sustain it. My mother was shocked by some scenes but then laughed, so this would be a great movie for couples who are in a long relationship. This is a very intriguing movie, I have not seen many with this concept, so I give it five out of five stars. I recommend this movie for mature 13-year-olds and up. This is a good movie for a mature crowd.

Video reviews available at kidsfirst dot org
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on December 4, 2012
My wife of 42 years dragged me to see this movie. I expected to be lectured, and was, about taking your spouse for granted. What I didn't expect was to be taken in by this movie to the point where I ordered a copy. Streep and Jones took a preachy movie and made it entertaining. Not for young children, though. You will have some explaining to do that will make you squirm.
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on December 3, 2012
"There's no magic pill or wand, he's just a guy with an office." Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) have been married for a long time. Kay thinks they have a problem in their marriage, Arnold does not. Kay wants to go see a counselor, Arnold does not. Kay thinks talking will help, Arnold does not. Kay pays for the trip, Arnold does not. They both end up in counseling together. Kay likes it, Arnold does not. This is actually a pretty funny movie along the lines of "Something's Gotta Give". Streep and Jones are great in this and really believable as an old married couple. The one thing that really surprised me about this movie is how dirty it was. Not over the top dirty, but I saw Streep do things in this I never thought I would (nor ever really wanted to) so be prepared for that. I will say that this is funny and worth watching but if you are renting it for your grandma I would preview it first...just in case. Overall, funny and worth watching, but you must know your guests sense of humor if you are watching with someone. I give it a B+.
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on January 5, 2013
At first I wanted to see this anticipated movie while it was released in theaters, then thankfully I was treated to this as a Christmas gift...and couldn't be more pleased with viewing it at home. Meryl Streep (Kay), Tommy Lee Jones (Arnold) and Steve Carrell (Dr. Feld) go free-form in therapy in Great Hope Springs, Maine.

One piece of bacon with one egg, one piece of bacon with one egg, one piece of...Ok, you get the idea here. Like Arnold's unchanging daily breakfast, their marriage of Thirty-One years is stuck in a routine, and hurt feelings. Kay, feeling ignored, inhibited and unfulfilled after all these vested years, decides to investigate for help. Will curiosity kill this cat...or awaken the sleeping lion?

Eventually, she finds Dr. Feld's book in the bookstore. While at home she jumps on the internet to find out about, then book a stay for, intensive marriage therapy. A first disgruntled Arnold refuses although does end up in Maine along with Kay.

The small town is lovely, atmospheric as it is by the water, quaint and really a place that most would love to visit. Kay immediately thought how great it was to be there while Arnold thought it over-priced, one positive and one negative as they start their sessions with Dr. Feld.

What is so interesting about therapy with these actors, is that it is all done unrehearsed. Director David Frankel usually chooses to take the first cut. Causing it to go in this direction provides the viewers with seeing; very personal reactions, facial surprises, uncomfortable movements, candid speaking, outbursts and all the rawness of being vulnerable without a filter.

While Kay is constantly pulling and fiddling around with the buttons on her cardigan, Arnold is grimacing and staring down Dr. Feld. The tension is perfectly palpable as the couple is learning all about each other all over again, and that things just have to change.

This intensely personal look into marriage on the inside is a great opportunity to learn a few things for yourself. A brilliant and slightly comedic drama, more for adults who can see the reasons why some just refuse to give up.
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on November 13, 2012
This movie could have been so much better. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones did a fine job portraying believable middle-aged characters along with Steve Carrell playing a sympathetic counselor. As far as an empty marriage requiring a 180 degree change, it was a believable plot line until their therapy only involved sex work with some really stupid juvenile tips that will bring on cringe-inducing moments. Rather than make a movie for 'grown ups', this production devolved into yet ANOTHER story built around SEX. Very tiresome when this had makings of greatness and could've been 90 minutes of marital counseling for the masses but instead was built around teenage fantasies for old people and how to rekindle sex at age 60 like an 18 year old. More gross than funny, let me tell you!
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on June 27, 2016
I think many people will miss how profound this movie really is. It is the exception, I believe, to most marriages that have become routine. Would that every one of those could end up this way. If you don't have an appreciation for the depth of intimacy marriage requires, and the courage to change, I don't think you will realize how this ordinary little story is really a great one.
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on March 27, 2015
2 powerhouse actors lead this movie. Streep is vintage Streep...this time playing a mousy homemaker who finally stands up for her self (and her marriage.) Tommy Lee Jones is astounding in this film! He deserved an Oscar nod for this one. (They both did.) Steve Carrell is great as as their therapist. Jones shows moments of emotion and vulnerability that are like a force. I was amazed by him in this role. Sadly, this film did not seem to get the buzz it should have. Great movie.
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