Hope Springs [Blu-Ray] David Frankel

Hope Springs [Blu-Ray]David Frankel
About halfway through David Frankel's latest accessible, mainstream look at mortal disappointment and quotidian compromise, Hope Springs, the frumpy Kay (Meryl Streep) decides to go down on Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones), her husband of 31 years, in a movie theatre. Handing him her glasses shortly after oral insertion, Kay struggles to get a good position between his legs, while he looks somewhat excited and a little bewildered. Quickly, his look of satisfaction turns to pain when he feels her teeth scrape his member. Kay again repositions herself, only to again inflict her husband, whom she has never previously fellated, in 31 years, with the misfortune of teeth. Embarrassed, and presumably close to a full mental break, she runs out of the theatre, crying about her inability to provide expert oral service. The funny part about all of this is that it's played for dramatic, not comedic, effect. Now, as a metaphor, this clichéd and moderately icky situation does represent the marital struggles between Kay and Arnold: she's sexually reserved and uncomfortable with her body and he's long since given up trying to get her to think outside the box. In their many sessions with couple's counsellor Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), Kay complains about the fact that they haven't consummated their relationship in over four years, which makes her feel unattractive and unwanted. On the other hand, Arnold points out that he finds it difficult to have sex with someone that isn't particularly interested in the act, noting they've only utilized the missionary position — not a single moustache ride — for their entire relationship. Both actors sell their respective roles, as expected, bringing their at home discomfort into the therapist's office. But no matter how well they look sheepish and embarrassed about the prospect of a threesome or a little rear entry craziness, it doesn't compensate for the overall glib limitations of the film. After 31 years of marriage, settling into a routine and giving up on dreams, or the idea of ever-lasting, altruistic love, one would think there would be more to discuss than blowjobs and screwing the neighbour. Unfortunately, Hope Springs doesn't agree, assuming that every complexity in the long-term relationship can be remedied by a little slap and tickle. It's exceedingly shallow and even insulting. And even if it's intended as a metaphor for other things — openness, comfort and communication — it's a rather lame and generic metaphor handled with little depth or thought. Resultantly, this broad, archetypal character piece proves forgettable and mediocre with the added benefit of being a bit patronizing. None of this is discussed on the supplements about the screenwriting process and the inherent niceness of Steve Carell, but Tommy Lee Jones does make a joke about having sex with dogs to Meryl Streep on the gag reel, which is easily the funniest intentional thing about the entire film. (Sony)