My motivation for studying films when I retired was my fascination with the difference of opinions and the heated debates about certain films I experienced during my compulsive film going teens.
Now, after 57 years of seeing films, reading reviews and learned articles, discussing in small of bigger film groups, I am slightly more informed and understand why some films provoke mixed reactions and I have become more tolerant. However some films just defeat me completely.
Hope Springs (2011) is one of these. I have expressed my dislike of some films targeted at the young older woman, featuring well-known older actors. They fall in the genre of early ageing romantic comedies and are appreciated by a general female audience. To me, and I think that my identity as an old feminist is important in perception of these films, they appear too obvious and uninteresting. This week I felt it was my duty to see Hope Springs with Meryl Streep advertised as a comedy about love. In order to have a more open mind I asked my daughter (aged 50) to come with me, so that I could somehow sympathise with another view.
Neither my daughter nor I had ever walked out of a film before. We did. Half way through, the torture by boredom had become insufferable. From time to time we looked at each other in despair whispering ‘boring’ and decided to give it a chance but to no avail. I am interested in all sorts of films and find in all genres something to enjoy, be it in the narrative, the characters, the cinematography or even the ineptitude. This time the predictability of it all just was too much. We agreed to ease the pain and get out.
The reviews have on the whole been favourable: funny, subtle, great acting. My daughter’s verdict on her Facebook: “Expecting some good laughs, we both walked out in boredom, slightly traumatised since we felt that we had been subjected to an inappropriate instructional video. Bad script, no humour, embarrassing acting…..unless you are in a really boring relationship and/or are an obnoxious person in your 60s and need instruction and sex tips on how to spice up your marriage then this film will definitely not be for you!”.
Claudia Puig, USA TODAY seems to have had a similar experience ” It is about as uncomfortable as sitting through an interminable counseling session — involving two people you hardly know and don’t much care about.”
It is not the first time that I have the feeling of seeing an ‘instruction manual’ film about old age in this case an old couple. Late Bloomers also about a couple gave this same impression. Is it the result of writing scripts by numbers? ticking the boxes for success at the box office?: audiences getting older -tick, famous actors – tick, sex -tick, funny scenes -tick….
Why don’t we have sensitive, witty, gritty, ambiguous comedies about getting old?
When I started to be interested in the representation of the old woman in films there was very little written about the subject. It is great to notice cultural changes and nowadays I have difficulty in keeping up both with films and academic writing, in particular two blogs who deal with old women and comedy.