Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones), o have marriage down to a dull science. They know each other so well they barely speak. Kay has needs even 100 cable channels can’t meet. She practically blackmails Arnold to join her at an intensive couples’ retreat in the small Maine town of Great Hope Springs, where Dr. Bernie Feld (a delightfully deadpan Steve Carell) will toss them into a weeklong Olympics of intimacy.
What could have been strained farce or, worse, geezer porn, morphs instead into a film of hilarious and heartfelt pleasures. Director David Frankel, who guided Streep to bitchy comedic heights in The Devil Wears Prada, works wonders once again.
It helps that Frankel has two of the best actors on the planet to raise the game. Streep, a powerhouse inhabiting the role of a timid wife and mother, uses her exquisite timing and no-bull instinct for truth to show us a woman yearning to blossom without knowing how. And Jones matches her with 50 shades of grumpy that give way to something tender in Arnold.
Hope Springs knows happy endings are provisional. What this exuberant gift of a movie offers Kay and Arnold is a renewed appetite for life. And that never gets old.