Film Review: “Hope Springs” (2012)
By Alex Chapunoff, LMHC, TIRF
Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are a middle-aged couple married for many years. Financially, they are doing well but Kay feels the spark has long left the marriage, leaving her with a mechanical, routine existence. She yearns for real connection to, and emotional authenticity with, her husband: unfortunately, he is very closed off and skeptical, and aloofly resists her attempts to change the comfortable (for him) but bland status quo.
On the lookout for change, she hears of a well-regarded therapist (played by Steve Carell) who specializes in immersive week-long couples counseling “packages” in the small Maine town of Hope Springs, just a few hours’ flight away. If you think convincing the repressed, penny-pinching, and surly Arnold to take a week off work and go on this adventure is a challenge, then just wait till the therapy starts!
The film does a good job of portraying couples therapy and the nuances that can come into play in a relationship. At first, it seems Kay is the sympathetic “heroine” and Arnold the uncaring “villain.” But then we find that life is not always so black-or-white and we get to hear Arnold’s side of the story. It becomes apparent that Kay has played her part in contributing to the marital crisis. It takes two to tango, and she bears some responsibility, as well as Arnold.
You get to see Kay and Arnold make changes, sometimes trying and failing, sometimes trying and succeeding, as they give their emotional muscles a workout.
Overall, an interesting film for anyone curious to see how one couple addresses their crisis.
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