Friday, September 7, 2012

Cinema Babble: This Is Your Marriage On Automatic.

The Flick: Hope Springs

The Peeps: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carrel, etc.

The Dealio: Kay and Arnold are a couple who have already raised their kids but are not yet ready for retirement. But they- especially Kay- is ready for something. Their life together has become one great slide into a stylised kabuki: filled with rituals and the barest amount of actual interaction and physical contact. When Kay learns about a couples' therapist in Maine, (Steve Carrel, in a muted, but so graceful performance),who offers a week-long intensive workshop, she realises that this, this now, is what she needs. What they both need. Problem is, Arnold doesn't see anything wrong with the way things are going at present. Now what? Well, if you've seen the trailer, you know that Kay is going, no matter what; but she truly does wish Arnold would go, too. So, reluctantly, angrily, fussily, spluttering off into stoic silence- he does. But you can't make him like it.

The Grading Session: 4.56 pengies out of 5. First of all, this movie is marketed as a comedy. It is not. Are there funny moments? Yup. But most of the attention-grabbing scenes are anything but funny. These are two actors who bring an authenticity to their performances: Jones' Arnold, with his saddle-leather, lived-in face seems the  average stuck-in-a-rut middle class businessman of a certain age. And then, his eyes flicker and you see usually-masked emotions: love, fear, anger, frustration, self-doubt. Streep's Kay owns the tiny gesture or moue that speaks volumes and makes you move forward in your seat. It is almost as  if each of these gifted  peeps are about to involve you in what is going on behind their stiff expressions and squelched emotions. Carrel, too, contributes a finely crafted performance that is far more challenging, I think, than his broader charactisations, because of the exquisite skill required. So, why not more pengies? Editing. We both felt that the movie could have ended five different times.  This is not a good feeling, once you have invested so heavily in the characters. Tune-up, please! Your mileage may differ.

Lessons Learned: Apparently Arnold-despite his many problems- doesn't have to worry about cholesterol: eggs and bacon. Every. Single. Morning. Then this: I will never look at corgies in quite the same way again. Thanks, Carol ('I can only handle three! Three is my limit'). Thanks, Arnold ('Yeah. Carol. With the corgies.'). Lastly this: love is often hard work, but always worth the labor to keep it green and growing.  Can I get an amen?

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