Saturday, March 30, 2019


Movie Name: Misery
Year of Release: 1990
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Kathy Bates, James Caan, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall, Frances Sternhagen, Graham Jarvis
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7 
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
After a successful decade in the 80s, which included "Stand by Me" and "When Harry Met Sally", director Rob Reiner started the 90s with another Stephen King adaptation (much like the lauded "Stand by Me"). The film follows the story of writer Paul Sheldon. After finishing a book in his secluded log cabin in Colorado, on his way back to the city, he ventures through some  bad weather and suffers a dramatic car crash. He is rescued by a former nurse, a mild mannered woman by the name of Annie Wilkes. She informs him that she recognizes him, and that she loves the series of books he has written focused on a female character named Misery. She takes care of him, letting him know that the roads are blocked/unmanageable and once the snow begins to melt, she will take him to the hospital. Paul is initially mostly out of it, but as he gets better, he starts noticing Annie's erratic behavior, going from sweet and docile, to the polar opposite, borderline maniacal and violent. She nearly goes ballistic when she reads the latest installment in the Misery series, and discovers the fate of the character. Paul knows he's in a standoff situation, and has to buy time, in order for his agent to report him missing, and for the police to start looking for him. But until then, he has to deal with Annie Wilkes who makes a proposal that he can't back away from.
"Misery" is a taut thriller, primarily centered around two characters, both of whom are somewhat isolated geographically. Rob Reiner and celebrated screenwriter William Goldman, adapted the novel from Stephen King, removing the more graphical and horrific elements from it, but maintaining the progressive sense of dread that is built, as Paul uncovers the truth surrounding the unstable Annie Wilkes. The film manages to be economical in its narrative, since it establishes the premise fairly early on, and allows for the game between these two characters/actors to be established and developed. It's a compelling story, one that is the more gripping due to Kathy Bates' performance, where she goes from naive to shrill to violent in a manner of moments. It was the film that finally made her well known, allowing her to win an Oscar in the process and getting the recognition she needed to move on to other interesting projects. The rest of the cast is strong, even if James Caan doesn't really add nuance or depth to the character. The cinematography from Barry Sonnenfeld (it was his last feature as a cinematographer) is impeccable, as is the score from Marc Shaiman. A solid and entertaining film worth watching.