We don’t often go to a movie theatre or even watch a movie at home. In fact, we have seen two this year and that is likely a record. For want of something to do this weekend and because we like Meryl Streep I suggested we go to see Hope Springs. While we are more than likely notqualified to review and recommend a movie we decided to share our thoughts anyway and suggest that you see it. While we were looking for something to do, and from the trailers I had seen on TV, we went hoping to have an enjoyable time before we got our annual ice cream treat to mark the end of summer. We were pleasantly surprised with the movie. Not to spoil the movie, although there is little to spoil since the story is simple and easy, it is the story of a middle aged couple who, though they would both say they loved each other, had let their marriage become stale. They lived in the same house, ate meals together, exchanged niceties but no longer shared intimacy in all the ways that that entails. In the end it is a story of the power of love and commitment, a willingness to do what the other asks because you love them, and reinventing lives and marriage. At times we were rolling in laughter and at others near tears as “Arnie” and “Kay” struggled to keep alive what they had experienced in their years together. Of course it pushes the Hollywood button of talking about sex but nothing is offensive – it is rated PG13. So often when I was teaching relationship and marriage I tried to find a movie that would support the values I was trying to teach. I found very few movies that show the journey of relationship as this one does. Most movies I found involved those having an affair, rebounding from divorce or young unmarried couples exploring a sexual relationship. Nothing showed the work required in keeping a marriage alive.
Not only did I enjoy the movie but it also made me reflect on what we have learned through the years, the necessity of working to keep our marriage alive. It reminded me of the importance of not only engaging in verbal communication but of having the intimacy that can only be achieved when we are attentive to the needs, desires, fears, anxieties, joys and sadness of the other.
It was a simple but wonderful way to spend the afternoon. I went hoping to be entertained but came away affirmed in all the things that we have done to strengthen our own marriage and those of others. It was also a little spark that was perfect to renew once again our commitment to live the vows we made many years ago. The movie is perfect for couples of all ages. Treat yourself.
When Rita suggested the movie, my first reaction was that it is probably a “chick flick”, but that was OK. I have gone to such movies before and have enjoyed some more than others. I was interested in getting out of the house and spending some time with Rita and the specific activity wasn’t all that important. As it happened, I did enjoy watching Hope Springs with Rita, but also found the movie had a message worth seeing and hearing.
We are introduced to a rather ordinary couple (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) married 31 years and going along very separate paths, even to sleeping in separate bedrooms. Interaction between the two is mostly routine and dull. Both have middle class jobs and seem quite settled into the humdrum of their daily lives. Tommy Lee Jones is a strong male and sees himself as a good husband and breadwinner. Meryl Streep remembers that he has a romantic side that has slipped away over the years. When “Kay” decides to try to bring back some of the spark of their dating and early marriage years she precipitates a series of events that force the couple to confront their future. Will they give up and end the marriage or will they fight their way back to a new intimacy? While the up-front issue is their sexual relationship, we begin to see that their problems are more a symptom of general neglect of the relationship and the insecurities of both partners than a real problem with sex. We see the value of determination and courage in their struggle to come back from the brink. It makes an inspiring story. This one is worth seeing.
Finally, I noted that there were very few men in the theater. Maybe it is a “chick flick” but it also has a message for men in Tommy Lee’s portrayal of the husband. Wives, I suggest that you not see this one with the girls. Instead, grab your husband and enjoy a couple of hours together remembering the importance of intimacy in your early marriage and its continuing necessity in your life together.
By the way, sharing a Coldstone “Love It” sundae while we reminisced about the movie was good for the “spark” in our relationship, too. Enjoy!
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