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HOPE SPRINGS is an odd combination of conflicting elements, constantly alternating between the mild and the uncomfortably truthful.

The observant screenplay by Vanessa Taylor is often undercut by the unremarkable aspects of the production: David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) directs the proceedings with all the blandness of a TV sitcom, and the predictable pop hits that score the film only succeed in driving home the already painfully obvious.

The schizophrenia extends right down to marketing of the film, and that’s what’s most surprising about ‘Hope Springs’ – in terms of tone, it’s frequently more akin to ‘Scenes from a Marriage’ than a comical ‘Grumpy Old Married Couple’. It does contain moments of humor, but it’s marked most strongly by a feeling of enormous sadness and heartbreak.

As one would expect, the performances are the standout – Meryl Streep is the emotional center of the film and she plays off well against Tommy Lee Jones, who never renders a false or overplayed moment (when it would have been easy to do both). As the mediator between the distanced older couple played by Streep and Jones, Steve Carrell is appropriately muted, but still projects a knowing strength of presence.

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