23 August 2012

Review: Hope Springs

Genre: Comedy (Romance)

I suppose that it should by now have become unsurprising, for all the fulsome praise heaped (mostly deservedly) onto Ms. Streep, that one's viewing of her latest released performance is a revelation for one's experience of acting in the cinema. For fear that I may indeed be simply another film enthusiast enthralled by her, I shall sidestep my own praise here, except to say that how she festoons each second of her time on screen with microëxpressions that are thorough and honest extrusions of the character's self into the world is nothing less than masterful.
No, rather than continue with this line, I shall address how skilled also was the director's, David Frankel's, work in establishing and pacing this small intimate romantic comedy. After The Devil Wears Prada (2006) - wow, can Meryl act under him! - and a handful of other effective but inelegant pieces, Hope Springs is a relative revelation for his oeuvre too. It is immensely clear that, given the boon of Ms. Taylor's (not diminutively) adorable screenplay, he made the right choices, keeping a drum-tight and attractive narrative through his use of his actors and their sets.
However, the film does suffer from a poor sense of the camera's proper relationship to the action. Shots are frequently too close to the actors or, otherwise, too inopportunely placed, to give the sense of lacking connection or otherwise the sense of inspiration that the dynamics of the filmic storytelling could have really used. In one late scene, Ms. Streep's character Kay weeps alone at night in her bed yet the solitary expanse of her dark bedroom, looming emptily around her, was bereft from the narrative for the cinematographer's poor choice to stay almost exclusively with the bust-portrai range of imaging.
Nevertheless, this film is a true Summer soufflé: effervescent, savory, and seriously light. After past disappointments by Ms. Streep's Summer films (cf., Mamma Mia!, 2008), I was thrilled to enjoy and mainly admire the work done here this year.

Grade: A-/B+

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