As it turns out, the on-screen chemistry between Jones and Streep is spot on, both in their characters' relationship's dry days, and as they grow closer. And Carell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), as the therapist who facilitates the reconnection, stays appropriately out of the way, offering empathy, as a counselor should, without over-involving himself in the action.
Frankel has definitely got a gift for mining his characters' mannerisms and actions for comedy, and in Hope Springs we laugh because Kay's trembling expression as she tries to seduce her husband is so relatable, or Arnold's under-his-breath wincing over what the good doc recommends is so believable. But the winning factor here is that Frankel got real — really real — in confronting the issues at hand.
We don't see up close Kay's unsuccessful attempt to perform fellatio on Arnold, but we sure know what's happening. We don't get literally into bed with this couple, but we witness all their fears, their feelings and their yearnings. In that, Frankel has succeeded by making a movie about intimacy intimate yet universal.
And what's best is that, while we in the 50-plus crowd can enjoy, relate and even learn something from the specific story that Hope Springs tells, a younger audience might get just as much out of the film's funny moments and its real-life themes.
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