You can name films about love, marriage and couples whose emotions have become lost in translation by the hundreds. It's a classic set-up for a rom-com or a heartfelt drama. And of course, lack of communication and losing the spark is something most audiences can relate to in one way or another. Unfortunately, Hope Springs cannot seem to decide which of these two sectors it fits into and become a blur of awkward sex scenes and a husband and wife who seemingly have nothing in common.
The film follows Kay, played by the talented and entirely watchable Meryl Streep and Arnold, her miserable-faced yet content husband played well by Tommy Lee Jones, as they attempt to reignite passion and intimacy by attending a week-long counselling holiday in order to break out of their routine and find a solution to their mounting problems- all of which are based around their lack of bedroom bonding.
Sounds like innuendos, slapstick and awkward bedroom antics are about to ensue right? Throw in funny man Steve Carell as their counsellor and you think you have the perfect ready made middle-aged rom-com. Alas, for some reason it just doesn't quite work and the laughs just aren't quite there.
It attempts to be relatable, purely for those of a certain age but ends up being clichéd and predictable. And Carell's character appears to be a bit of joke but only because he is attempting to be serious. The characters are one-dimensional and you can see the end coming from the start.
The majority of laughs are supposed to come from the couple's attempt at sexual exploration. However, the scenes are uncomfortable rather than funny and it seems almost unbelievable that after a lengthy and mostly happy marriage they would have a bumbling, frightened teenage approach to sex or even holding hands. Whilst director David Frankel hasn't gone the fail-safe route of arthritis and heart conditions impacting on the ageing couples sex life they have instead made them desperately awkward, embarrassed by sex and portrayed Streep as the rejected old woman willing to do anything to get some attention.
The plot is actually rather miserable and they may have made a more poignant film if they had stuck with this as a serious theme and steered clear of cheesy scenes that are meant to make the audience nudge each other and say, 'that's like us'.
There are occasional moments of honest insight and the three lead stars perform well, particularly as most scenes feature only them, they remain watchable.
One for a rainy afternoon as it is rather inoffensive but not exciting. Could have easily been a film for daytime television if it wasn't for the three award winning stars reciting the lines.