When was the last time you saw a love story about people over 60?
How about a bedroom scene between folks who've been married more than 30 years?
This film image released by Columbia Pictures show Meryl Streep as Kay Soames, left, and Tommy Lee Jones as Arnold Soames in a scene from “Hope Springs.”
If nothing else, "Hope Springs" deserves praise for highlighting romance and excitement in a massive segment of the population that, if we judged by movies and TV, no longer has a love life.
Yet during the majority of this thoroughly entertaining movie, romance and excitement are the last things you'd think of.
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play an aging couple for whom the sparkle has vanished.
Though she'd like more intimacy, the two sleep in separate rooms and haven't had sex in years. They barely communicate - and he falls asleep in front of the Golf Channel every night.
So she signs them up for a week of marital therapy with a guru played by Steve Carell.
Yeah, I know - Streep, Carell and Jones ... it's hard to think of a more intriguing cast. And it's impossible to imagine anyone pulling it off better.
Years ago, a New York film critic said Streep was the only actress he knew who could act with her hair.
Here, you can throw in her glasses and her nighties as well; but mostly it's her eyes: pleading, wistful, saddened, hopeful - and every now and then flashing with affection. She ropes us so thoroughly into her quest that the film becomes hypnotically absorbing.
It's also hilarious - mostly thanks to Jones, whose legendary stone face is the perfect vehicle for a man who growls out this charming definition of marriage: "It means we have a marriage license and I pay all the bills."
His discomfiture in therapy - and some of hers as well - had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt.
Playing straight man to these two spectacular leads, Carell is smart enough to pitch them floaters and get out of the way.
Yet his gentleness is the perfect backdrop for the comical and sometimes painful wrestling these two must do to save their marriage.
Weaknesses in the film include a climactic moment when the relationship seems about to turn the corner, then suddenly collapses again; I wanted more explanation on what happened in this scene, and why.
Likewise, the movie needs more penetrating dissection of the couple's relationship than the nonstop and detailed talk about their sex life. This is clearly not the only thing wrong with their marriage, and much of it seems added only to generate embarrassed laughter.
In addition to sexual chatter, at least one attempted sex scene (in public, no less) will leave many viewers squirming.
The movie really should be rated R; but then again, few teens will clamor to see it.
And in a way, that's too bad; this film serves as a welcome antidote to pop-culture's demented assumption that sexuality is restricted to people who aren't married to each other.