CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones Elevate ‘Hope Springs’
CHICAGO – It can be argued that Meryl Streep is in the most fruitful period in her long and illustrious career, at least as far as the variety of character parts she has undertaken. She co-stars in “Hope Springs” with Tommy Lee Jones, as a mousy Omaha wife who is looking for a change in her marriage.
Streep does an artful balancing act in the film, because she does love her husband, but is desperate to make a change in how they meander into their 31st anniversary. She again is the most notable performance, playing a generally shy woman who is risking a lot to assert herself. The story is a bit choppy and cloying at times, and unfortunately relies on a star system predictability, but still manages to entertain simply through the performances of the two strong lead actors.
Kay (Meryl Streep) has a routine in her Omaha, Nebraska household. She and her husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are empty nesters, and now sleep in separate rooms. She makes the same breakfast for him every morning, they discuss the same topics – what will be for dinner that evening – and Jones returns each evening from his job as a tax accountant to fall asleep in front of the TV. The sameness of this existence is taking a toll on Kay.
She suggests a marriage counselor named Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), and the couple must travel to a coastal city in Maine to have a week long session with him. Arnold resists at first, but when Kay defiantly says she will go no matter what, he decides to accompany her. What transpires is frank discussion over marital and sexual circumstances that have long been buried, and the consequence of their actions will begin a new evolution in their relationship.
Photo credit: Barry Wetcher for Columbia Pictures