Hope Springs (15)
DISPLAYING a frustrating loss of nerve, Hope Springs transforms what could have been a frank and funny exploration of advanced-age sexuality into a broad and dumbed-down relationship comedy for the Saga set. Meryl Streep plays Kay, a desperate housewife who drags her reluctant husband to an intensive round of couples’ therapy in a last-ditch effort to reinvigorate her sexless marriage.
The couple subject themselves to the counsel of Dr Feld, whose baby-steps suggestions for returning intimacy to their relationship gradually give way to groan-inducing gags involving fruit, and one excruciating comic set-piece revolving around a spontaneous attempt to perform a lewd act in a public cinema.
If such moments sound risqué for a film about people in their sixties, it’s risqué only in a sniggering, end-of-the-pier way.
Rather than trusting Streep, Jones and Carell to use their skills as actors to convey anything worthwhile about the way companionship leads to complacency, the film hammers home every point with an explain-all piece of therapy speak, an overbearing joke or a soundtrack cue. It’s the cinematic equivalent of talking slowly and loudly at an elderly relative just because they’re in a nursing home.