September 6, 2012
True to life, yet entertaining
The trailer led me to think Hope Springs would be conventional (long marriage gets stale, man's emotionally frozen, woman thaws him). I went because Meryl Streep was in it.
But lo, the plot, characterizations, and writing were fresh, surprising, original, and utterly true to life. The therapist doesn't do Hollywood fakery, but acts like a real therapist. The sessions go up and down, and success isn't guaranteed. Progress is rocky, especially when expectations begin to rise. The surprise revelations come in clumps, uncomfortable, searing or funny. The language isn't dramatic: it's true to these everyday characters. There are no deathless pronouncements. The vows at the end are just like in normal everyday weddings and re-weddings.
The script and direction make all of this mundaneness flow; the tension is just right, and the message stays close to the bone. Another plus is that Meryl Streep finally has a strong opposite in Tommy Lee Jones.
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