Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are a devoted couple, but decades of marriage have left Kay wanting to spice things up and reconnect with her husband. When she hears of a renowned couple’s specialist (Steve Carell) in the small town of Great Hope Springs, she attempts to persuade her skeptical husband, a steadfast man of routine, to get on a plane for a week of marriage therapy. Just convincing the stubborn Arnold to go on the retreat is hard enough--the real challenge for both of them comes as they shed their bedroom hang-ups and try to re-ignite the spark that caused them to fall for each other in the first place.
The traditional romantic comedy tends to take place at the start, or certainly near the beginning, of a relationship. But Hope Springs turns things on its head, and spends its time in the company of a couple who are married, but separate to all intents and purposes. Played by Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, it's the latter's character who insists they go away for a week of marriage therapy. Steve Carell, in a non-comedic role, plays their therapist, and the film is effectively a platform for the two leads to demonstrate their skills. They do not let the side down.
While there are moments in Hope Springs that feel just a little slight, it's the excellent pair of leading performances that consistently makes the film as strong as it is. Streep and Jones put across three dimensional characters in a relatable way, mixing in good laughs and serious drama. It also touches on subjects not too often dealt with in the genre in a really accessible way.
There are a few interesting extra features to bolster out the disc, although they're not going to divert you for too long. The film might just do that, though. It's certainly the kind of movie that rewards more than one viewing, if for nothing else than to salute the acting masterclass on offer. --Jon Foster