There are scenes in Hope Springs that left me wondering whether the ‘‘sexual revolution’’ of the 1960s and ’70s was a complete waste of effort and what was that ‘‘free love’’ about which our elders reminisce.
The movie is about Arnold and Kay (Tommy Lee Jones andMeryl Streep) who after 31 years have worked their marriage into a rut the depth of the Mariana Trench.
Arnold, a tax accountant, is an unimaginative, stubborn man who dislikes change and resolves issues with derogatory shouting matches.
Kay has a milder temperament. She works in a shop and most of hermarried life has been devoted to looking after Arnold and their kids.
Streep’s Kay is at times irritatingly compliant.
You feel like shouting at her to get a backbone, but years of familiarity and bullying have evaporated her expectations.
The pair no longer sleep in the same room and both have stopped asking for what they want.
So when their kids leave home and Kay looks at her future, she is uninspired and overwhelmed with sadness.
She wants more.
A book by a renowned couple’s therapist Dr Feld (Steve Carell) piques her interest. Called ‘‘You Can Have theMarriageYou Want’’ she decides this might be for her and Arnold.
The therapist runs live-in week-long intensive couples therapy courses and Kay books one.
Arnold is not happy.
Persuading Arnold to get on the plane is a mission in itself, but seeing him go through what he considers is a complete waste of time, paying money to someone he sees as a charlatan is another story altogether.
But full marks toKay.
The trend today would be to give up at the first resistance, but she does not give in to his bullish tirades and hurtful comments.
She is convinced they can rekindle the spark and she is nothing if not determined in her quest.
Streep and Lee Jones are fantastic and Carell, playing it straight with a warm twinkle in his eye, is the perfect foil to their uncomfortable couple.
Posing questions such as ‘‘when did you last have sex?’’ and ‘‘do you have any sexual fantasies?’’ the therapist has the couple squirming with embarrassment, completely out of their comfort zones, but ultimately asking themselves how they lost each other after so many years.
Hope Springs goes to a place few of today’s movies dare explore—middle-aged sex.
Streep and Jones’ clumsy attempts at loving are in stark contrast to the modern movie trend of effortless acrobatic sex by nubile 20-somethings.No spoilers, but I thoroughly recommend you see it for yourself.
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