My sister made a special trip, 30 miles one way to visit me, so that we could see “Hope Springs” with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. She loves Meryl, her favorite actress. I have always found Tommy Lee, with his gruff, no-nonsense screen persona, combined with brains (I know he was Al Gore’s roommate at Harvard) to be an irresistible combination.
My first reaction? Boy, have they gotten older along with the rest of us! Then I admired these actors, Meryl and Jean Smart and Tommy Lee, for not having the plastic surgery like so many other celebrities do, trying to keep their 35-year-old faces. They all looked like people in their sixties, and they are. I really liked that.
The theater was full of other boomers like my sister and I, even at 2:30 on a sunny Saturday afternoon. There were a lot of laughs, especially for Tommy Lee who played an unbearably pessimistic and complaining husband. His character got a lot of laughs every time he complained, but I thought there was only a little exaggeration of this personality. I’ve met, and married, a person like this character.
I’ve been on my own for many years and think that there is not a lot I could put up with from a partner or a boyfriend or a date. I don’t give many second or third chances to correct a bad impression. I have a tendency to walk off if confronted with bad behavior. But I have not invested thirty years in a relationship. It was hard for me to leave my marriage of only eight years, and I was suffering emotionally for most of it. But I can understand Meryl’s character in the movie, wanting to work at a solution. She wouldn’t walk away from her 30 year marriage and her emotional suffering was obvious. They were living separate lives. They had separate bedrooms and minimal, businesslike conversations. He falls asleep in his chair every evening. His wife decides to fight against the rut. She wants her original husband to come back to her.
I have had this marriage. My parents had this marriage. I know several women of my age who have had or currently have this awful excuse for a marriage. This movie addresses a problem that is widespread, if my anecdotal evidence can be trusted. The saving grace of the marriage in the film was this: they did still care deeply for each other. Tommy Lee’s character, keeping his own counsel, gruff and uncommunicative, still respected and loved his wife. This is what allowed them to bring the joyful aspects of their marriage back to life.
There was sex in the sixties in this movie. No, not the Sex in The Sixties that some of us recklessly indulged in, but sex by people in their sixties. No nude scenes! But, be warned, pretty realistic. These two veteran actors have my lifelong admiration for putting themselves out there in this performance.
‘Hope Springs’ is a hopeful movie. But if a stagnant marriage includes drugs or alcohol dependence, mental cruelty, physical abuse, chronic infidelity………. Steve Carrell’s counselor won’t be able to help.
Yay for writer Vanessa Taylor for providing a good script and a movie for the boomer demographic. Ms. Taylor, I have learned, is unmarried, in her thirties, and is a writer for “Game of Thrones” on HBO. Who’da thunk it?