Hope Springs – 3 stars

Meryl Streep is incredible, as always, flawlessly and effortlessly inhabiting the character of a repressed, unhappy Nebraska housewife, married to a removed, cantankerous Tommy Lee Jones.  She signs the couple up for a week of couples counseling in Maine under the tutelage of Steve Carell, during which their marriage is analyzed in order to fix it.

Most of their problems stem from intimacy issues.  They haven’t had sex for 4 years.  So that’s where Carell focuses.

The performances are uniformly good and the interplay between Streep and Jones is often genuinely affecting.  The film, however, becomes repetitive and ends in a cloying renewal of vows that is much too much.  The movie also features some of the worst, most intrusive and blaring pop songs to accompany emotional stretches.

Be prepared.  As I said, the central problem for Jones and Streep is sexual.  Which means frank talk about and between people I’d prefer not to think about in sexual situations.  It also has a scene of Streep trying to give Jones a blowjob in a theater, a failed endeavor. Sure, there is some humor in Streep purchasing “Sex Tips for Straight Women by Gay Men.” But watching her put those tips into practice?  Sorry, kemosabe.  Deal me out.

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