Watching old people not having sex is funnier than you would think
My Generation remains one of my favorite songs, even though I’ve started to get some doubts about the second line.
At 44 I’m not quite as eager to die before I get old. I’ve realized that it won’t be too long before I’m there too, and I can’t imagine that I’ll feel any more done living at that point than I am now. The world is a big place, as xkcd pointed out the other day
Looking at pop culture, you’d believe that most people quit life at a far earlier point though. Somewhere around our mid 40s, we’re done, ready to go and hide in some cave so no one has to be exposed to our ugliness, wrinkles and old ideas, take or leave a few years. Women disappear from the screens earlier while men are allowed to hang around for a few more years
Tolerance and interest for people of different ages only works one way. While 65 year olds don’t mind watching movies about 17 year olds, since they’ve also been 17 once upon a time and can relate to it, the 17 year olds who want to hear about the lives of 65 year olds are few.
And that’s why the stories of the older people so rarely are told.
There are exceptions of course. Earlier this year I enjoyed the senior cast of Best Exotic Marigold Hotel quite a bit and now there’s another movie out that also targets an audience with more life experience.
Dark and funny
Hope Springs brings us into the life of a couple whose marriage after 30 years has gone cold and dysfunctional. As a last effort to try to save the wife insists on that they should attend a weeklong therapy session, which the husband reluctantly agrees to do. And as viewers we get to follow them along on a long and hard journey where they explore all the dark and dusty corners of their marriage and their sexuality.
The first half of the film reminded me of one of my favorite TV series, In Treatment. The sessions in the therapy sofa are dark, touching and occasionally funny.
When the film leaves the therapy and they’re practicing on their own, it loses a little of its nerve and turns into a slightly more traditional rom-com. The score was also a little bit disturbing: too cheesy, too much pointing on the nose and with some way too long sequences – full length music videos that made me impatient.
But even with those objections, the film surprised me. I was surprised at how much I laughed at it. Never did I imagine that watching an old couple not having sex could be so funny. I was surprised at how honest it felt. It’s very straight forward about one of our few remaining taboos. And I was surprised at the performance by Tommy Lee Jones in one of the leading roles. I already knew that Meryl Streep would be excellent.
You don’t need to be 60+ to enjoy it. All it takes is that you’re old enough to realize that dying young is a worse alternative than getting old.
Hope Springs (David Frankel, US, 2012) My rating: 3,5/5