Is a bit of a shocker. Old Mrs Jack and I were happily married for 50 years and, trust me, wouldn’t have got through this on the same couch. It’s excruciating (like a friendly Le Week-end). Splendid, okay, but – gaaaaaaaaaaah!
Meryl Streep (Kay) and Tommy Lee Jones (Arnold) have been together for thirty-one years. They haven’t done the slurpy in five. She is finally revved up; he is running scared to the other room. So…off to Hope Springs they go to work with Steve Carell’s earnest sex counsellor and get the juices flowing again.
I was trapped in the TV room on a drip. It was rehydration time and I had no way to escape. At all. Just me, five widows and two hours of ghastly admissions on the sex shrink’s sofa. Not awful, mark me, just the kind of stuff no-one on Earth should have to say out loud. Or watch people say. In an enclosed space. With a group of widows.
I mean, now Old Mrs Jack is safely dead, I’ll cheerfully admit I wanted her dressed up like our fish and chip lady some nights, basted and shiny, with a bit of crunchy batter as the years went by and the wrinkles rucked up. But mention it when she was alive? Hell, no. That’s the joyous freedom of her being dead, for pity’s sake!
But Hope Springs goes there. And keeps going there, just as your neck starts to hurt from grimacing. Threesome daydreams are tortured out of Arnold. Non-missionary sex hopes and aching cowardice are squeezed from Kay. And then there are the experiments…
I’ve lived a long life, but watching Meryl Streep stroking her way up an old man’s sensible slacks – oh dear God.
Then there’s Tommy’s grunting and begging her to be more careful with her teeth on his intimates, in the dark, of a cinema, packed with people who don’t need specs for close-up work…
From a certain angle, this film is a beautiful, sensitive piece about old love and rediscovering intimacy. From another, it is the living nightmare a gentleman can avoid by never getting off the horse in the first place and keeping that mental image of Marilyn Monroe picking stuff up firmly – and I mean rock-solidly – front of mind.
The performances are spot-on: comic, embarrassed, funny, warm, loving, other words that respect the actors’ craft and make this a thing you should ever consider watching.
But…oh Christ, I’ve just remembered the banana scene.