I don't need to tell you that there's a LOT of sex in the media and our culture -- and that most of the people who are having all that sex are young, gorgeous and perfect. Watching two people who are impossibly beautiful having choregraphed sex is pretty fabulous. I mean, who doesn't think Channing Tatum and, well, just about anyone is sexy? That's easy. Sexy at my age? That's a little more difficult. Not that we don't FEEL sexy, but to watch two fifty-somethings doing it and find that sexy is quite an accomplishment.
That's what's so great about Hope Springs.
The film itself -- the script, the story -- is okay. It's not something you haven't seen before -- couple grows apart, nearly loses each other then [SPOILER ALERT] finds their way back to a more fulfilling and happy relationship -- but Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as Kay and Arnold Soames are so genuine and believable, and their relationship such a mess, that you really do feel the joy when they attempt (quite a few times) to rekindle their sex life. She's the epitome of the middle-aged frump, and he's the perfect example of a disconnected and robotic husband, almost to the point of caricature. But in a way, it's these caricatures that make the couple that much more familiar. We all know, or have known, people like Kay and Arnold Soames. One of the things that makes this movie work so well is the honesty they both bring to the conversation each time they meet with their therapist, played by Steve Carell in a non-comedic role. There's nothing about the story that will surprise you, but if you've been married for a long time there will be something that makes you nudge your spouse and say "ha -- just like us!"
The most touching parts of the movie, for me, are the sex scenes. Watching two older people who love each other expressing those feelings and sharing that connection is in some ways much sexier than two young, gorgeous people who met six hours ago slamming each other up against a perfectly decorated bedroom wall, which seems to happen a lot in movies. Though his face is unflinchingly old and her body is noticeably spreading and squishy, when the characters kiss again for the first time after a LONG time, it's really, really hot.
Us Weekly magazine wrote a blurb about Hope Springs that really irritated me. This was how the blurb started:
Who's psyched to see an old couple discuss why they stopped having sex? Anyone? Anyone?
(As if an "old couple" shouldn't even be allowed to have a sex life at all, and I would hardly call these two "old").
Well, yes Us Weekly. I was psyched. Maybe not in the way I'd be psyched to see, say, Ryan Gosling and Scarlett Johannson, but in a much more emotionally real and relatable way. I knew how they felt -- what couple doesn't go through days, weeks, months of disconnection? Extend that to four years and that's where these two lonely, sad people are in their lives. So yes, it is hot when they finally find their way back to each other. Maybe not for young people, though if they have a shred of sensitivity, I bet they would find it kind of hot, too.
Take a look at the list of movies playing at one of my local theaters this weekend:
How many of those movies are made for people my age? One. Others may be enjoyable and fun to watch, but believe me, when the marketing department for, say, The Bourne Legacy planned their ad campaign, I was NOT their target audience.
Hope Springs is a film that will probably touch your heart and maybe even make you feel sexy. Because there's nothing like knowing that your spouse, sitting next to you at the movies, will know just what you mean when you nudge him or her and say "ha -- just like us!" Now that's hot.