Film: ‘Hope Springs’ (2012)

Columbia Pictures

You know that the 31-year-old marriage of Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) in “Hope Springs” has truly ossified when couples therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) tells them you first need to break the nose to fix a deviated septum.

Saturn rules the bones and is all about protective armor – the hardness that destroys spontaneity and flexibility. And that pretty much sums up the sex-free Kay-and-Arnold union.

Kay, who yearns for the intimacy of yesteryear, unwittingly upholds their separate-bedrooms policy by being a mother figure to her stubborn man. The couple, attached to their Saturnine world of habits and unbendable structures, seem a lost cause. But Kay refuses to give up. She books a series of counseling sessions with Dr. Feld – Jones’s depiction of Arnold, the bully who refuses to be dragged back to his old frisky self, is priceless – and the pair get with the program.

“Hope Springs,” directed by David Frankel, is about two older people who genuinely care about each other and try to thaw out their freeze, mainly because Kay bravely declares, “I want to have a marriage again.” The twist here is that Saturn is also in charge of commitment, loyalty, respect and hard work – the glue that’s necessary to hold marital unions together.

That the pair will restore the spark that brought them together decades earlier is a given. But not without completing the therapist-prescribed exercises, which throw Kay and Arnold, in Saturnine fashion, way outside their comfort zones and require every bit of this somber planet’s characteristic persistence. The couple’s final breakthrough – to its credit, the movie never diminishes the effort involved – feels like a Saturnine reward.

Rating: ♄ (Saturn)

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