I got the opportunity to view a private screening of the new movie “Hope Springs” last week.
No, I am not a movie critic, and no one arranged for this private screening. My husband and I just happened to be the only people at the first 9:50 show. I figured it wouldn’t be a sell out since it was being pitched to the slightly older than “Batman” crowd, but we got our first chuckle before the previews even started when we were the first and only two Tommy Lee Jones fans in the place.
For once, we got to sit in the center of the theater and defiantly talked back to the voice asking us to turn off our cellular devices. I even took a picture of all the empty seats with my phone just to hold the memory of this monumental occasion.
“Hope Springs” is about a couple who has been married 31 years. They have raised two children, held down respectable jobs, and lost each other along the way. Every day is the same for Kay and Arnold, they live together, but separate, rarely speaking and devoid of anything close to intimacy.
Kay decides to step up and fight for her marriage. Arnold digs in his heels and fights for his right to grow old with things the way they are.
The couple ends up in a little town in Maine called “Hope Springs” with a popular marriage therapist played by Steve Carell. Kay has paid four thousand dollars for a week of intense marriage counseling and Arnold, the accountant, thinks the whole idea is a waste of time and money.
After some highly uncomfortable sessions things get worse, which is so often what has to happen for marriages to last, and is exactly what Arnold has feared in the first place. He has lived a flat, boring life for years and has feared change.
Without giving away the ending, let me say that there is a happy shift. Kay gets what she wants but, so does Arnold.
With the whole new batch of empty nesters in my personal friend group I can see this kind of relationship all over the place. We live our lives catering to what is urgent and neglect the importance of laughing together as couples. We let snoring or bad backs rob us of waking up next to each other and snuggling for just a minute or two after that alarm in the morning.
Bills require extra hours at work. Being tired prevents lingering at the dinner table to talk about things that are heavy on our hearts. We allow life to pull us apart. Then when we aren’t so busy anymore with kids or jobs we have nothing to hold us together. Many couples give up at the very stage we work so hard to reach.
“Hope Springs” probably won’t win any Academy Awards. It is probably not going to be highly acclaimed by many real film critics either, but this critic believes it’s a story worth telling.