Ah, Meryl. You did it again. Meryl Streep was superb as Kay in Hope Springs. I saw it last night, and while the film was slow for me at points (a bit like an In Treatment episode), the subtext Meryl can give a scene with deft use of an awkward hand movement, a slight smile, or a voice tremor kept me riveted. Meryl is funny too! During the scene near the end where she spies the neighbor, “Carol with the Corgis” about whom her husband Arnold confessed a fantasy, Meryl’s physical gestures had the audience roaring with laughter. Unfortunately the audience was laughing so much that the following funny line, “But three’s the limit,” went unheard. Too bad.
One scene did fall completely flat for me, and that was the one in a bar where Kay discusses her problems with Karen the bartender, played by Elisabeth Shue. Perhaps the scene was cut shorter than originally intended, because the humor felt forced. I really admired screenwriter Vanessa Taylor’s writing in other scenes. The dialogue was realistic and very spare, which allowed for the actors to carry the emotion of the scenes and involve the audience in the interpretation of their actions. Just the mere positioning of the couple on the couch spoke to the level of their relationship. When they progressed from being on opposite ends of the couch to being seated close, well, we knew without words that there was hope.
The love scenes were wonderful, even the awkward attempted-love scenes. And the romantic scene when Kay and Arnold finally re-connect…beautifully done. I certainly cried. Upon leaving the theater, I heard an elderly woman exclaim loudly to a friend about how she abhorred the move and had absolutely no desire to watch old farts having sex. But I think she missed the point. The love scenes weren’t about sex, they were about love. Refreshingly different from most romantic comedies out there. I got that, and I think almost everyone would. Kay and Arnold had re-connected even before they were able to be physically intimate again, but their love was fully renewed when they were able to connect physically.
Oh, and Steve Carell as Dr. Feld. Can’t forget him. Great comedic timing as always. He was perfect for this role. Gotta love Steve. A thumbs up from me over Hope Springs. Meryl Streep was amazing.