The very concept of Hope Springs - a film about a three-decades long marriage that has fallen into emotional disrepair - suggests a fresh perspective on the conceit of the romantic comedy. And because of that, it's easy to forgive some of the tonal missteps that occur as we go through the familiar beats and peaks towards an inevitably happy ending. But what is unforgivable, guys, is what you did to Meryl Streep's leg.
Don't act dumb. You know what I'm talking about.
The worship of youth culture feels as though its about to hit critical mass. This is true across all medias, but particularly true in the cinema. While half a century ago it wasn't at all strange to see a 53 year-old Cary Grant wooing 36 year-old Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember, adult audiences today are flocking to franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games to watch handsome teens play out their romance fantasies.
Which is why Hope Springs, despite focusing on matters of age and decay, feels new. Starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones (63 and 65, respectively), it's the story of a woman who convinces her dour golf-obsessed husband to accompany her for a week of marital therapy in a quaint coastal village, performed by a weirdly restrained, hyper-sincere Steve Carrell, who seems to be playing an older, wiser version of Andy Stitzer from The 40 Year-Old Virgin.
Most of Streep and Jones' marital problems involve intimacy, the treatment for which is, of course, participation in a series of increasingly X-rated sexual exercises (let's just say it's a great time to be alive if you've ever harbored a fantasy of Meryl Streep performing fellatio on you in a movie theater). All of his weirdly humiliating innuendo leads to the scene in question. A physical breakthrough. Rekindled passion. The couple is on the floor of a fancy hotel room, in front of a crackling fire, feeling each other up like a couple of teenagers in the midst of a dystopian kill-or-be-killed game show. Jones then reaches down and runs his hand up the inside of Streep's leg. And that's where you guys came in.
Was it cellulite? Varicose veins? A tattoo of an Oscar statuette giving the middle finger? Make all the excuses you want about the corrupting nature of the institution, I don't care if it was the studio, or producers, or director David Frankel that demanded you use your CGI skills to touch-up the inside of Miss Streep's thigh-- blotting out the scars of age in a movie that is all about those scars and how, cumulatively, they change a person, is the kind of behind-the-scenes malfeasance Hollywood is notorious for.
Hope Springs has the right idea. The romantic trials of a long-married couple have the potential to be just as poignant as the high school histrionics of sparkly vampires. But the film lacks the courage of its convictions. You guys obscured the truth with your digital paintbrushes.
Jared Young (Age 32)