The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Watching old people not having sex is funnier than you would think

with 11 comments

“Things they do look awful cold
I hope I die before I get old”

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

Written by Jessica

September 20, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Hope Springs

11 Responses

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  1. I find that I re-define “old” every year I age. When I was 8, 17 years old was old. When I was 16, 21 years old was old. When I was 21, I accepted the 30s but 40 seemed old. And I didn’t want to come close to 50.

    Now I’m 36, and 70 seems old. Something tells me I’ll reach 50 and “old” will become 90.


    September 20, 2012 at 4:52 am

    • Indeed it’s a movable word. I think our eagerness of keeping it at a distance might have to do with our reluctance to accept that we’ll eventually die. It’s just a little bit too close to it so it’s guilty by association. Natural laws apply to everyone, but we prefer not to be reminded of it.


      September 20, 2012 at 7:32 am

  2. HEHE John is right.. when I was 18 I said I would be DEAD by the time I was 30!! Now I am 38 and panicking on borrowed time!

    • Let me reassure you: the panic won’t go away anytime soon!


      September 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

  3. Yes, the cheesy music was the one thing that I noticed, too. Sometimes US americans exaggerate a little when it comes to polishing. Even “natural” things look artificial then. Another movie where this was very apparent was Estevez’ “The Way”. It is about walking in landscape with only the necessities, no need to ruin this with too much music and only arranged (looking) shots. Or compare the two versions of “The talented Mr. Ripley” (ok, 40 years apart, that may have its part also). May have to do something with cultural differences. Or even the financing (european movies are public financed nearly all the time, you can set other priorities than when you need to look for financial success). Or the quiet and normal US movies just don’t make it over the pond that often.

    But then I still liked the polished shots of Maine in “Hope Springs”. I guess that nice part of the world has its backyards also, but I didn’t need to see them in this movie. Hm. I am susceptible also. 😉


    September 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    • Polish is fine as long as it doesn’t go over the board and becomes “too obvious”, bordering to clichés. Which happened a little in this film. But I think the lovely acting performances brought balance to it. On the whole I liked it pretty well. Change the music and I’d give it a higher rating.


      September 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  4. Great post, of course, Jessica 🙂 I really want to see this one. Meryl Streep is in it = obligatory viewing for me.


    September 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    • You should really watch it. While I thought she was brilliant in Iron Lady, I really liked seeing her playing an ordinary woman here.


      September 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm

  5. […] Hope Springs was surprisingly dark and funny, especially the first half, which reminded of a good episode of The Treatment. […]

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