No matter what part she’s playing, Meryl Streep is one of the most watchable actresses around. From monstrous magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada to Mrs Thatcher in The Iron Lady, she’s always charismatic and convincing.
And it’s the same in Hope Springs, her latest movie. Here she stars as suburban wife and mother Kay, who is devoted to her grumpy husband Arnold but realises that after years of marriage their relationship needs spicing up.
So when she hears about a couples’ counsellor based in the pretty seaside town of Great Hope Springs she persuades Arnold to sign up for a week of marriage therapy with her. The pair book into a cheap motel and turn up for daily sessions with Dr Bernie Feld (played absolutely deadpan by Steve Carell).
Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Arnold, act their socks off in this movie but I can’t for the life of me work out who on earth the audience will be. Young movie-goers will squirm with embarrassment as the couple discuss their sex life (or lack of it) while older viewers will find Kay and Arnold’s attempts to re-ignite the spark in their relationship too uncomfortable by half.
Directed by David Frankel of The Devil Wears Prada fame, the film has a few laugh-out-loud moments. Streep is genuinely touching as the unhappy Kay and Lee Jones is gloriously taciturn as Arnold, but the script is lumbering and the counselling scenes seem endless. And the soppy last scene definitely should have been cut.
When I attended the UK Cinema Showcase last week, Heat film editor Charles Gant declared that you can sum a movie up in two words. A film, he said, is either ‘”really bad” or “really good.” Ignoring his advice, I’m going to sum up Hope Springs in 14 words. If you like Meryl Streep, go. If you don’t like Meryl Streep, don’t bother.