When you put Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep in a movie together, the expectation is that you’re going to see something special. In “Hope Springs,” they’re not just in the same movie, they’re practically in every scene together.
Streep plays Kay and Jones plays Arnold, her husband of 31 years. After that much time together they don’t have much of a relationship. Kay is starving for affection from Arnold but he’s more attracted to the Golf Channel than he is to his wife. If that wasn’t bad enough, they even sleep in separate bedrooms. The lack of affection turns Kay’s attention to the Internet, where she finds a couple’s counselor named Dr. Feld, played by Steve Carrell in a far more sober role than we’re used to seeing him tackle.
Here we have two great actors, no longer young, allowing cameras to explore every wrinkle, crevice, blemish and angle of their faces. They’re both as vulnerable as can be, letting it all hang out in an effort to deliver performances that are as realistic as possible — and what else would you expect? Of course, they both deliver. As the prudish Kay and Arnold, Streep and Jones exhibit a level of discomfort during conversations with Dr. Feld about their sex life that’s both hilarious and endearing.
It’s thanks to these fantastic performances that Kay and Arnold’s situation rings true, relatable even if your marriage or relationship is great. But as wonderful as Streep and Jones are, “Hope Springs” is only adequate. Clichéd production values and a script that renders the degeneration of Kay and Arnold’s marriage a bit superficial prevent “Hope Springs” from being really special.
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.