Cringing, grinning, weeping, holding my breath - I did it all during Hope Springs.
Meryl Streep plays a bored and brokenhearted wife, and Tommy Lee Jones is brilliant as her tight, grumpy, distant husband. They head away to Great Hope Springs for intensive couples' therapy.
The characters are rich and wonderfully brought to life, the storyline is languid and tender, the issue appears to be a live one (judging by the film's success) and I found myself desperately hoping they'd work things out.
Steve Carell plays a surprisingly plain relationship guru.
He does a brilliant job of enabling Streep and Jones to shine.
Another star is the scenery, supposedly of the town of Great Hope Springs in the northeastern American state of Maine, but actually a town in nearby Connecticut.
The painted weatherboard homes with shutters and manicured gardens are reminiscent of a doll's house.
It makes for a perfectly nauseating backdrop for Jones' character's worst nightmare: the process of dissecting the intimacy within his marriage.
On a Sunday afternoon, the cinema attracted an audience of older moviegoers. There was hearty chuckling and quiet giggling from the senior contingent during the film, suggesting many of the asides and scenarios resonated with the older demographic.
I was surprised by how moving and, at times, melancholy this film was.
The publicity material calls it a comedy, and there are certainly moments of solid humour, but I wouldn't recommend it to those seeking easy laughs.
At times my gut was knotted with angst for the main characters, and I shed a tear or two at the end.
Other than the topic on the table - intimacy - it bears little resemblance to Carell's hilarious, frivolous, silly hit, The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
This is a story about whether it's possible to fall back in love after years of neglect. It is a film for romantics of all ages.
(M) 100 minutes
Rating: 3.5 / 5
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