Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hope Springs Makes you want to Embrace Streep and Jones for Being able to Bring these Characters to Life

Hope Springs (3 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by David Frankel (Devil wears Prada, Marley & Me)
Written by Venssa Taylor (Alias, Everwood, Game of Thrones)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carrel

Over time love morphs and becomes something different.  As people have children or delve into their later years the love with partner becomes something different, because love evolves throughout a couples' experiences together.  Now I do not know this from first hand experience, but this is an occurrence I have seen daily with numerous people who surround me.  Sometimes two adults do not evolve together at the same pace, and their lack of communication about their feelings, and own journey get lost in the everyday moments of life.

In Hope Springs, Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) have reached this point in their lives.  The film starts with a sequence highlighting the mundane everyday activities that have forced this couple to be "the dinning dead."  The sit in almost silence after Kay has prepared Arnold's meals.  At their anniversary dinner with their children Kay reaches a breaking point when she shares with her children that their anniversary gift was cable television package.  Kay heads to a bookstore where she finds a book by Dr. Feld (Carrel).  After looking at the book Kay cashes in money that she has in savings in attempt to salvage her marriage.

First and foremost the film itself is saved by the talented performances from the two leads Streep and Jones. I love watching Meryl Streep when she let's things go all natural, I almost tend to agree with Katherine Hepburn, when Meryl relies on her accents you almost lose her natural acting beauty.  In Spring Meryl is  vulnerable, and shines as a women who has lost the confidence in her own beauty because she is afraid her husband no longer finds her beautiful.  Kay resigns herself to sleeping in different beds, but in the end wants to feel as though there is more to their love than the physical, and that Arnold can love her again.

Jones tends to play this cranky archetype often, but there is something about his acting within this film that allows him to take Arnold to a different level.  Arnold soon realizes that he does not want to be like his co-worker living in a condo by himself, and attempts, with much reservation, to salvage his marriage.  Throughout the sessions during the week Arnold continues to make movement towards finally opening up and finally expressing himself.  As Jones explores this role, and opens up you get to see this character's vulnerability, which is buried deep because he does not want to let this side out.

For Taylor's first film screenplay she succeeds in making this film into something better than it could have been.  Springs could have been too slapstick, or too melodramatic, but  Taylor found a good balance within this work.  There are moments when the pessimist comes out of me thinking maybe these two people do not belong together, and this is where the film has flaws.  These two characters seem to have truly grown apart too much at times making it seem like a reconciliation could be a cop out.

One of the main problems with this film is soundtrack in the background.  Films often tend to use music to convey the journey of the characters, and while some films have used music to enhance the film, the music is a distraction, and made me roll my eyes several times.  Towards the end of the film there is montage with the Annie Lenox song "Why" and while I love the song it seemed out of place and forced into the background like within a bad episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Beyond the music the film accomplishes something rare by showing that as people grow older their love story is not over.  Springs uses their talented leads to help make the characters relate able, while not a great film was an entertaining journey, watching two people find their way back into each other's arms.  

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