COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 40min
STARRING: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
The Maine course: from left, Streep, Jones and Carell
Married 31 years, Omaha couple Kay and Arnold Soames (Streep and Jones) have ossified into sexless monotony. Curmudgeonly, tight-fisted, neglectful and abrasive, Arnold is the definition of a lost cause. Kay, so bruised she trembles constantly on the verge of tears, yearns for a more connective relationship. Seeking counselling with marriage guru Dr Bernard Feld (Carell) at his cosily plush consulting room in Hope Springs, Maine, is her idea. Arthur is characteristically begrudging but goes along with it because, dammit, he loves her more than he knows.
Kay and Arthur’s stumble towards intimacy under the benign guidance of their clear-sighted therapist is awkward, confronting, engrossing and sometimes painfully funny. A lined and fleshier Streep is so powerful in her poignant ordinariness that sharing it seems almost illicit, while Jones peels back the defensive layers of a frightened man with uncompromising honesty. This is a movie where all the figurative and literal stars are aligned: actors with a wealth of talent, a challenging, understanding screenplay from Vanessa Taylor and director David Frankel (Marley & Me) who nurtures the best in it all.