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HOPE SPRINGS Movie Review

I heard a complaint recently that Hollywood is not making movies for the older demographic but HOPE SPRINGS really delivers for the 50+ crowd.  Finally, we get to see a mindful movie that deals with issues in the bedroom in a very conscious and realistic way.

Meryl Streep (playing Kay) and Tommy Lee Jones (playing Arnold) deliver believable and lovable characters that show us a secret world of therapy, marital dysfunction, and the desire to change. Steve Carell (Dr. Feld) plays such a serious role that you forget it’s him and he really embodies the genius of a good therapist.  One immediately falls for Meryl’s character because she seems to love her husband so much, despite appearing as a bit of a doormat housewife.  At first we are frustrated with Tommy Lee’s character but he changes so much through the course of the movie that we are rooting for him and loving him for his vulnerability as well.

Kay and Arnold begin to look inside to see how they have been hurt in the past, how they didn’t express their true feelings, ask for what they wanted, and how they started to shut down and protect their loving hearts from pain. Through this self-examination and willingness to work together (despite loads of resistance from Arnold) they start to open up to the possibility that it doesn’t have to be this way anymore.  Their choice to choose love over fear becomes the change-agent in their relationship.

Although I have never been to couples counseling, I could still relate to what these characters go through in how uncomfortable it can be feel to be vulnerable in front of both a loved one and stranger. I felt so much compassion for both Kay and Arnold as they work to save their marriage and fumble along, often taking two steps back for every step forward.  And yet, the reason why this movie works is because it is so authentic and realistic, and I felt like I was right there in counseling with them.

I learned in my Master’s program in Spiritual Psychology that “perfect vulnerability is perfect protection” and this is truly the main message from this spiritual film.  Kay and Arnold start off without any intimacy but through Kay’s deep commitment to herself and the marriage, transformation and healing begin.  I also learned in my Master’s that “healing is the application of loving to the places inside that hurt” and this we also bear witness to in this film.

I could also empathize because I feel like I have seen so many marriages end up this way: as roommates or friends living together where the romance has died and intimacy is lost. I felt surges of different emotions as Kay and Anrold’s marriage so closely resembled my parents’. And I know there are many, many more couples like this out there and my thought was that this movie could really help couples dealing with similar issues. It was also a loud warning signal to me to always make my relationship and my husband (when he gets here!) a priority. Intimacy is a priceless, spiritual connection that has to be kept sacred. The truth in a relationship is freeing and since men and women speak such different languages there has to be a commitment to express authentically, listen, and understand each other.

I won’t ruin the ending of the film but let’s just say that I am always grateful for feel-good film finishes because they leave us hopeful, grateful for the shared human condition, and inspired to change for the better.

I acknowledge this film for committing to showcasing a real issue, especially amongst older couples, that is often overlooked and not dealt with because the vulnerability can be uncomfortable. As more movies are made like HOPE SPRINGS and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK where we, as content creators and audiences alike, take a look at some of the real shadows in humanity and bring light, humor, and love to them; we all will be healed.

Entertain – Enlighten – Inspire,
Kate Neligan – Founder/CEO of Mindful Media Entertainment & Synergy TV

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