There really could be a smart and interesting film somewhere in Hope Springs, the tale of an Omaha couple of 30 years whose wedding is stuck in neutral, with the wife taking matters in her hands and booking a week of intensive marriage therapy in Maine. Especially because the couple in question is perfectly cast: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Alas, David Frankel's morose dramedy neither fulfills the promise of its premise, not gives its stellar cast much to work with. Ms. Streep is precise as ever as Kay Soames, the somewhat constrained housewife who wants to be seen as flesh and blood and not just an heirloom housekeeper; Mr. Jones puts his gruffness to good use as Arnold, the old-fashioned, stuffy CPA husband who thinks some things are not meant to be dealt with.

     But Kay and Arnold - or to that matter Steve Carell's nicely subdued, straight-man therapist, or the brief, local-colour cameos handed out like consolation prizes to fine actors such as Mimi Rogers or Elisabeth Shue - have little to no personal existence beyond the film's timespan; they're merely routine stock characters in material that regularly throws away potentially inspired gags and that not even the assembled talents can raise, drearily and lazily handled by Mr. Frankel (much more adroit in his previous collaboration with Ms. Streep in The Devil Wears Prada). Disparagingly below par, Hope Springs completely wastes its opportunity to make a serious statement about love after 50, thrown away in a slight, underwritten script composed in cliches rather than in character, suggesting that a healthy dose of sex is all it takes to salvage a wedding.

Cast: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell

Director: David Frankel
Screenplay: Vanessa Taylor
Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus  (colour, processing by Deluxe, widescreen)
Music: Theodore Shapiro
Designer: Stuart Wurtzel
Costumes: Ann Roth
Editor: Steven Weisberg
Producers: Todd Black, Guymon Casady (Film 360 and Escape Artists for Columbia Pictures, Mandate Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
USA, 2012, 99 minutes

Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 1, Lisbon, August 28th 2012


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