* * * * * (Joyce)
(Poignantly funny relationship story)
"It's a chick flick,” Joyce said, not me.
Anyone who has been married over 30 years will find moments of truth in this poignantly funny relationship movie about a marriage that has lost its romance.
The three-character film stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as Kay and Arnold, married 31 years, living a listless, sexless marriage that just sort of happened along the way. They can't remember the last time they had sex. They have separate bedrooms, separate interests and separate ways of dealing with a marriage that has become routine and empty.
Kay convinces her grumpy, cold and very reluctant husband to travel to Maine for a weeklong couples counseling session conducting by a very gentle, soft-spoken marriage counselor (Steve Carell).
All three actors are terrific in defining their characters, although I felt that Arnold was a bit over the top with his pettiness and miserly approach to life. He books a cheap motel rather than the local inn and buys cold cuts to eat in the room, rather than pay to eat in the local restaurant. He did, however, personify that macho male who will not, under any circumstances, let his guard down and show any emotion.
Kay, on the other hand, is desperately searching for any sign of love. "He won't touch me,” she tells the counselor.
The couple struggle with each other during their sessions, with the counselor giving them simple exercises to increase their intimacy. Arnold just doesn't get it, threatening to leave at every turn. But eventually the clever counselor gets to the core of their problem, which slowly reveals itself.
Hope eventually springs in the small town of Hope Springs, leaving us with hope for the improvement in Arnold and Kay's marriage. There's a nice little ending to their story while the credits are rolling.
The movie was filmed in nearby Stonington, Conn., which will make you want to take a short trip to the quaint community.
This movie will probably be of little interest to anyone under 50 and may make married couples over 50 a bit uneasy at times, but wives should drag their husbands to see it.
Rated PG-13, with an adult look at marriage and sex.