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Movie Review: Hope Springs

August 10, 2012

Hope Springs – A Columbia Pictures’ Release

Release Date: August 8th, 2012

Rated 14A for mature themes and sexual content

Running time: 100 minutes

David Frankel (dir.)

Vanessa Taylor (writer)

Theodore Shapiro (music)

Meryl Streep as Kay

Tommy Lee Jones as Arnold

Steve Carell as Dr. Feld

Jean Smart as Eileen, Kay’s Friend

Ben Rappaport as Brad, Their Son

Marin Ireland as Molly, Their Daughter

Patch Darragh as Mark, Their Son-in-Law

Brett Rice as Vince, Arnold’s Friend

Becky Ann Baker as Cora, The Waitress

Mimi Rogers as Carol, The Neighbor

©Columbia Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) and Kay (Meryl Streep) in Hope Springs.

Our reviews below:


Hope Springs Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

It’s refreshing to see a mainstream drama for adults and the quietly affecting Hope Springs elevates the summer movie season to a more mature level.  Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are celebrating 31 years together, but they have gotten to the point in their marriage where they no longer even sleep in the same bed.  Arnold has settled into the routine of things, but Kay is at the end of her rope and books a trip for both of them to the small town of Great Hope Springs, to visit marriage counsellor Dr. Feld (Steve Carell).  Using the metaphor of a deviated septum, his goal is to break apart all of the uncomfortable details of their marriage, before piecing their relationship back together.

If the characters are pushed outside of their predetermined comfort zones, then they will be set back even further.  What they need to do is restore their marriage back to what it was before stalling out, so that they can finally move forward.  There are often only two or three characters on screen at any given time and the entire film is driven by dialogue, but it’s all surprisingly compelling and emotionally satisfying stuff.  The screenplay is sharp and insightful in a way that thankfully doesn’t villainize any of the characters, and the fact that this is the first feature written by Vanessa Taylor just makes it all the more impressive.  We believably see the problems that both sides bring to the situation, and the dialogue is brilliantly delivered by the actors.

Meryl Streep deserves yet another Oscar nomination for her performance, garnering respectful sympathy for what her character is going through.  Tommy Lee Jones is genuinely believable in his role as her ornery husband.  He is a man of routine who honestly doesn’t see how his wife’s emotions are effected by his actions, and we sincerely want him to succeed once he starts trying.  Steve Carell is just perfect as the nonjudgmental therapist, helping bring their marital problems to the surface in a frank and refreshingly honest way.  Between this and his heartbreaking work in the underrated Seeking a Friend for the End of the World a few months back, Steve Carell deserves serious awards consideration for his work this year.

Although director David Frankel’s Hope Springs is being advertised as a light comedy and there are some hilarious scenes, the film is equal parts drama as it deals with marital problems in a very real and believable way.  With masterful performances from Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell that should be shown in acting classes, this is a refreshingly mature late summer film that deserves to be remembered at the end of the year.


Hope Springs Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

In Hope Springs, Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are just a regular couple.  They’ve been married 31 years, and on the outside everything seems to be going smoothly, but Kay starts to feel that their life is stuck in a rut – a regular routine that just isn’t working anymore.  They aren’t communicating, or even sleeping in the same bed.  Arnold on the other hand is a man of routine and change can seem intimidating, so he is less than pleased when Kay signs them both up for one week of intensive couples counseling in Maine, with specialist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell).

The brilliant thing about Hope Springs, is that no one is villainized here – we can relate equally to where both Kay and Arnold are coming from, and how hard it can be to realize just how much it takes to meet back in the middle.  Kudos really have to go to Vanessa Taylor for a very well written script.  Plus, all three leads give really great performances.  Streep is predictably good, and Jones as well.  But one really interesting thing is how much Carell can portray in a character that is only seen really in an office environment, and almost always speaks in the same clinical (although never cold) tone.

This is a film really only about its main characters – there are no subplots here.  Just the story of Kay and Arnold during one pivotal week.  More sensitive viewers should be aware that there is ample sexual dialogue.  It is also not a rom-com in the way that the trailer presents itself, but rather a more quiet film that feels like it could have been a small gem discovered on the festival circuit (in the best way possible) – much like Marigold Hotel does.  What I liked most is that Hope Springs felt believable and genuine – this is a great film, from technicals to performances, and deserves to be seen.


Hope Springs Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Love conquers all.  This is evident in Hope Springs, a charming and realistic film about an older couple and their struggles to rekindle their marriage.  Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married for 31 years now.  Trouble is, there is a real lack of intimacy in their relationship.  Arnold has become aloof, and Kay feels that it is time that the marriage is in desperate need of a makeover.  So Kay books herself and Arnold a flight out to Hope Springs, home of renowned couples therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell).  He gently persuades Kay and Arnold to to discuss what they want in their relationship, and gives them intimacy exercises.

The film is entirely believable.  Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrell give very sympathetic and heartfelt performances.  Hope Springs also works in that it depicts marriage as a commitment.  Sometimes a marriage has difficult dry spells, and it is not the fairy tale version that far too many people expect.  But the best things in life are worth the effort.  The film has many sweet moments, including a very nice epilogue during the credits.  Hope Springs is a lovely film that can be enjoyed by both married and single people alike.


Hope Springs Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Ordinary people, ordinary lives, ordinary problems all wrapped up and delivered in an anything but ordinary movie called Hope Springs.  Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones give deeply touching and believable awards worthy performances as Kay and Arnold, a couple in Omaha, Nebraska who’ve been married 31 years.

On the surface their marriage is comfortable.  They have a nice suburban house, two grown children and grandchildren and neither has any interest in looking for someone better outside their marriage.  The problem is Kay is no longer happy with the fact that they sleep in separate bedrooms, a move made after Arnold hurt his back.  She misses Arnold but he’s a man of routine and not crazy about change.  Kay makes the bold move of booking them a week long intensive marriage course in Hope Springs, Maine in hopes that they can rediscover their obvious love for one another.

The scenes in the therapy sessions with the very calm Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) are brilliantly written, touching and raw exchanges between Kay and Arnold.  The fact that most of the movie is carried by the three lead characters without needless subplots is a credit to Vanessa Taylor’s tightly written script.  This is a character and dialogue driven movie that is brought to life beautifully by incredibly real performances from Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.  It’s so nice to see a movie with characters that are okay with looking and acting their age.

While some of the dialogue about sexual intimacy may put off some viewers, Hope Springs is a movie that adults of all ages, married or not, can relate to.  With a nice mix of humour and heartfelt drama, Hope Springs offers hope for those wishing to rekindle love even if it’s a little uncomfortable at times.


Hope Springs Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Hope Springs is an intimate look into the attempt to rekindle intimacy in an otherwise comfortable 31 year marriage. With grown children gone, Kay and Arnold (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) have settled into a routine of mutual respect and support but sleep in separate bedrooms. Despite Kay’s overtures, Arnold now seems content with a minimum of physical contact. Kay takes the initiative over Arnold’s objections to book a $4000 one week intimate couples retreat in Maine led by Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), a celebrated relationship therapist.

Beautifully directed by David Frankel, this is essentially a three character play with only incidental appearances by others. Without judgement but lots of gentle humour, we really come to know what is going on with both Arnold and Kay, both through close up observation and the patient counselling of Dr. Feld. The three main actors play to their strengths, the typically sweet and strong Streep character contrasted with the prickly Jones, while Carell shines in his own sensitive (rather than comic) role. Hope Springs is a delight, strongly recommended for more mature audiences.


Consensus: Anchored by a trio of awards worthy performances from Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell, Hope Springs is a mature and quietly touching adult drama that is carried by a beautifully written script from Vanessa Taylor.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2012 5:04 pm

    I like how you all put in your two cents into these reviews! It’s a cool concept, and I enjoyed reading each of your reviews 😀


    • August 12, 2012 7:22 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s always great to hear feedback from our readers and fellow movie writers – we’re so glad that you liked our reviews!

      -John C.


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