Tag Archives: Meryl Streep

Hope Springs

9 Aug

Synopsis:  After 30 years of marriage housewife Kay, (Meryl Streep) pays for a marriage counseling retreat  in Maine to save her mundane marriage with her emotionally detached husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).

Cast

Meryl Streep………………………………………………………………………………..Kay

Tommy Lee Jones…………………………………………………………………….Arnold

Steve Carell……………………………………………………………………………Dr. Feld

Jean Smart……………………………………………………………..Eileen, Kay’s friend

Ben Rappaport……………………………………………………………….Brad, their son

Marin Ireland……………………………………………………….Molly, their daughter

Brett Rice……………………………………………………………Vince, Arnold’s friend

Becky Ann Baker……………………………………………………….Cora, the waitress

Review: Hope Springs, the name of a small town in Maine, is really a metaphor for the famous quote “Hope Springs Eternal”. In the town is a therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) who helps married couples rekindled their marriages after the flame has long burned out in their relationships.

Kay, a housewife, and husband Arnold have been married for thirty years, for years now they have slept in separate bedrooms, have the same daily routine of Kay devotedly cooking bacon and fried eggs for Arnold’s breakfast before he commutes to work and watches Arnold fall asleep while watching golf tips on ESPN. This is Tommy Lee Jones’ movie and he gives a remarkable performance as an emotionally detached husband who is comfortable with his detachment and mundane routine in his life.  Arnold is so out of touch he really doesn’t acknowledge how hard Kay is working to make him find her attractive again. When he does acknowledge her he usually talks about himself, golf or his day at the office.  Kay, so devoted,  just listens or agrees with any decision Arnold makes.

Streep, who is a national treasure, plays Kay as a woman whose dogged devotion turns to desperation until she finally takes matters into her own hands. She finds a self help book written by Dr. Feld about how to save your marriage and decides to book a week of intensive marriage counseling with the doctor in Hope Springs, Maine. Needless to say Arnold does not want to go at all but finally gives in when he realizes Kay will go anyway with or without him.

Steve Carell plays the soft spoken doctor with patience and becomes the perfect straight-man to Tommy Lee Jones’ comical yet sometimes angry remarks and self realizations. It is here the character study of the emotionless Arnold takes off and we begin to wonder how much is he really trying to understand his wife or how much he is just placating her. Jones brilliantly navigates from being self conscious and angry to trying to resolve his true feelings for Kay. The sexual innuendo and  comic sensibilities of the story ring true as  does the depiction of long term relationships. This is truly a film aimed at the rest of us who are not in the typical teen to twenties demographic.

If you enjoy well told small stories about people, relationships and life go see this film. Like the film, Marigold Hotel, it is a story about people who seek to improve or change their current circumstances making this an interesting, fun and satisfying movie going experience. I highly recommend you and your “significant other”  take a visit to Hope Springs especially to see Tommy Lee Jones give this outstanding Oscar worthy performance.

Recommended: 

The Iron Lady

16 Apr

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Synopsis: The Iron Lady is a surprising and intimate portrait of Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), the first and only female Prime Minister of The United Kingdom. One of the 20th century’s most famous and influential women, Thatcher came from nowhere to smash through barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male dominated world.

Review: The story is done entirely in flashback as an aging Margaret Thatcher remembers key moments in her life and career as she suffers from Alzheimer’s and struggles with hallucinations of her dead husband Denis. The movie itself is not that great and at times slow paced.

There is a sad moment in the beginning of the film where we see the aged Thatcher buying milk in a grocery store unnoticed and unrecognized. Ironically she started out as a worker in her Father’s store and still to this day needs to know the price of everything. The only thing that she is oblivious to is the price she paid for her political career.

Meryl Streep: In my estimation is the finest character actress in modern American films. Her performance as Thatcher , like everything else she does, is spot on from here voice inflections to her make-up she doesn’t miss a beat. Although the film is all about British politics the film has nothing really compelling to hold your attention. That said Streep’s brilliant portrayal is so convincing you can see why she won an Oscar for it.

Jim Broadbent: Plays Denis Thatcher as a shadow under his wife’s career. He just gives in to the fact that M.T. as he calls her, is going to be Prime Minister and her family, children included are secondary. M.T.‘s son Mark for example is never seen, lives in South Africa and will have nothing to do with her. In her decline Mark makes excuses why he won’t come to visit. The movie also alludes to her strained relationship with her daughter Carol.

The story shows us how tough decision making made Thatcher both despised for her union busting conservative politics ( the I.R.A. bombings etc) and then loved by her battle in the Falkland Islands with her resolve that “The Falkland Islands belong to Britain, and I want them back!’’ Thatcher’s “Never compromise!” attitude cost her many friends and political allies. Wrong or right she never backs down and after serving as Prime Minister for a record 11 years she resigns after becoming unelectable.

The story chronicles her decline and quite frankly the way it is told is bland and has little except Streep’s performance which is worth a look see. Thatcher has hallucinations of her husband watching her throughout the story and has intimate conversations with him in her dementia. In short if you are a history buff or into political bios then by all means see it. If you are a fan of Streep by all means see it. The film can be rented on Netflix or your local RedBox and is also available on standard and blu-ray DVD.

Slow paced, historical bio.