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Published: Sunday 11 August, 2013

fashion shops fashion shops ?Couples therapy with Meryl and Tommy Lee



Heres the problem with serendipity: The moment you start to measure or describe it, you also start to undermine it. If I tell you Ive been to Utica or Fresno and had a surprisingly wonderful time, you start building up your expectations. Then when you go there and find out theres no underground music scene, no used bookstore and no place to eat organic, freerange steak, you get all disappointed and think Im an idiot. On that principle, I ought to keep my review of Hope Springs, the new marriage dramedy starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, to a few words: Not quite what youre expecting. Really! So check it out, and Ill see you here next week.



OK, Ill keep going. But dont claim you werent warned! Anyway, its probably fairer to say that Hope Springs both is and is not what youre expecting. Its something like Ingmar Bergmans Scenes From a Marriage, as translated into the universe of the Lifetime Network.



When I say all the cheap gags have been cut out, thats not quite true. Hope Springs does include a scene when Streep as Kay, a 60ish married woman who works at a Coldwater Creek store in an Omaha shopping center tries to navigate the relationshipadvice books at Barnes Noble. Every time she pulls a promisinglooking volume about healing your marriage off the shelf, it turns out to be about polyamory or bisexuality or S/M. Later on, when she actually acquires a Queer Eyestyle book of sex advice for women written by a gay man, it turns out to involve bananas as an instructional aid. But Streep plays those scenes in a genuinely questing spirit, one that mixes curiosity with discomfort, and with nary a hint of condescension or overreaction. Shes not necessarily crazy about a world where a wifes role now includes rehearsing fellatio with pieces of fruit, but doggone it, shes not so set in her ways she wont give it a try.



Hope Springs is about characters nobody would ever be likely to make a movie about, except perhaps in a spirit of faint but audible mockery. Probably the most radical thing about it is that theres none of that at all, and that Streep and Jones invest these resolutely ordinary Americans people who have embraced ordinariness as a mark of pride with subtle, tragic grandeur. Kay and her husband, Arnold, played by Jones with hunched shoulders and understated gravity, are solid middleclass citizens, neither rich nor poor. Taylors screenplay, and the two actors meticulous performances, frame them so precisely that they seem both generic and specific, a couple who straddle our nations generational and demographic divides. If I had to guess: Hes voting for Romney, and she for Obama.



Across 31 years of marriage, theyve drifted into routine and drifted gradually apart. Arnold falls asleep in front of the Golf Channel every night, and then goes to bed in the guest room with a golf magazine. Kay cooks him breakfast every morning one fried egg, sunny side up, bacon, toast and coffee and gets a kiss on the cheek when he leaves for the office. They arent soulless robots or brainwashed consumer drones, but something is definitely missing, even if Arnold barely notices its absence. There is no trauma between them, no hostility, no overt unfriendliness. So far as we know, neither of them has cheated. Although Arnold, as we eventually learn, has some highly specific sexual fantasies about a neighbor. Carol? Kay says to him in amazement. Carol, with the corgis? But they havent had sex in five years, and we get the impression it was none too frequent before that.



After a certain amount of emotional tugofwar, Kay convinces Arnold to accompany her to the picturesque Maine town of Hope Springs, where Dr. Bernie Feld Carell whose book she found in that Barnes Noble runs intensive therapy workshops for struggling couples. Carells terrific in the role, but if his name draws people in expecting some zany, Officestyle, deadpan humor, theyll be sorely disappointed. Even to call Dr. Feld a dramatic role is misleading; hes less a character than a catalyst, whose role is to provoke Kay and Arnold into facing essential questions about their relationship. As Arnold grouses, with considerable justification, Felds environment is like a Potemkin village of wooden shutters and seafront cuteness, with inflated restaurant prices to match.



It might fashion shops be easier to understand what kind of movie Hope Springs is if I explain that Mike Nichols was the original director, and Philip Seymour Hoffman was supposed to play the therapist. The husband was originally to be Jeff Bridges, and then James Gandolfini. Whether you detect a note of social satire in Kays mallfashion ensembles and salonstyled hair, or in the almost mechanical routine of Arnolds days, is entirely up to you. Honestly, though, I dont see it that way; Frankel and Taylor are urging us to see that these people are, like the rest of us, running out of time before they die, and the fact that they love each other but have drifted apart is a tiny but reversible human tragedy.



An actor who thrives on his gruffness and unapproachability, Jones pushes his character into uncomfortable, emotionally revealing terrain in a way he never has, even in signature roles like No Country for Old Men. Meryl Streep requires no endorsement from me or anybody else, but I truly think that Kay is among her greatest performances. It would have been easy to let her slide into ludicrous caricature or saltoftheearth heroine, and she never does. Instead Kay is an anguished, anxious and exquisitely real person who makes the brave and lonely decision to take control of her own life, someth fashion shops ing many of us never do regardless of where we live and where we buy our clothes. The correct reaction to Kays selfreinvention is less laughter than humility, although this implausible late summer surprise offers plenty of both.



For those OK with the mainstream, White River Forest welcomes more than 10 million visitors a year, making it the mostvisited recreation forest in the nation. But dont hate it for being beautiful; its got substance, too. The forest boasts 8 wilderness areas, 2,500 miles of trail, 1,900 miles of winding service system roads, and 12 ski resorts should your snow shredders fit the trunk space. If ice isnt your thing: take the tirefriendly Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway 82 miles connecting the towns of Meeker and Yampa, half of which is unpaved for you road rebels. Try driving the Ridge and Valley Scenic Byway, which saw Civil War battles fought. If the tall peaks make your engine tremble, opt for the relatively flat Oconee National Forest, which offers smaller hills and an easy trail to the ghost town of Scull Shoals. Scaredycats can opt for Johns Mountain Overlook, which leads to twin waterfalls for the sensitive sightseer in you. Travel 20 miles west of Dolly Sods among the busiest in the East to find the Canaan Backcountry for more quiet and peace. Those willing to leave the car for a bit and foot it would be remiss to neglect dayhiking the White Rim Rocks, Table Rock Overlook, or the rim at Blackwater River Gorge. Rogers NRA via Hurricane Creek Road, North CarolinaMost know it as the highest country theyll see from North Carolina to New Hampshire. What they may not know? Car campers can get the same grand experience for less hassle. Drop the 50pound backpacks and take the highway to the high country by stopping anywhere on the twisting hence the name Hurricane Road for access to a 15mile loop that boasts the best of the grassy balds. Its the road less travelled, and fashion shops the high one, at that. For a weekend getaway of the coastal variety and quieter version of the Florida Keys thats no less luxe, stick your head in the sand and ocean, if snorkelings your thing at any of Long Keys 60 sites. Canoes and kayaks are aplenty, as are the hot showers and electric power source amenities. Think of it as the getaway from the typical getaway. With the Colorado River still within view of this cliffedge site, Crazy Jug is a carside campers refuge from the troops of tourists. Find easy access to the Bill Hall Trail less than a mile from camp, and descend to get a peek at the volcanic Mt. Trumbull. fashion shops

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