Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Misery (1990)

Gives new meaning to I'll scratch your back you scratch mine

The idea behind "Misery" involves a pretty basic story about fixation and survival after a well-known serial writer crashes his car during a blizzard and a local nurse pulls him out and harbors him in her house till his injuries improve and things blow over. This is a psychological chess match of an encounter that's a thrilling, cinematic journey that might get you rubbing your legs afterwards or just plain ashen at the sight of a snow storm on the rise for reasons other than nature at its fiercest.

The film has a certain building flow that escalates as it progresses. Annie Wilkes, Kathy Bates' character, starts out as an eager care taker and a bashful fan of the writer's work but as time creeps on she reveals a Jekyll and Hyde persona with one side being a polite small towner and the other a troubled women with a few skeletons in her closet. Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan, keeps his wits and emotions in check with a sense of dark humor despite the impossible situation he's found himself in. It's imperative that he plays along to her demanding personality as with the extent of his injuries he can't prepare his own food, never mind emptying the bladder. Though even when the weakest animal gets pushed or cornered: Watch out.

"Misery" carries distinctive traits of a Stephen King story as it starts as small as a seed, concentrates on character development and keeps you in the moment instead of worrying about technical jargon. Kathy Bates seems like she was made for the role of Annie Wilkes with her good-natured appearance and aura, but then what clenches it is there's just something you can't put your finger on, as if she's too welcoming. She's capable of pulling off both the pleasant and insane sides as if they were one and the same. This is a tale of circumstance: if two strong personalities intersect and how they ultimately interact with one another. When they first meet they have something in common on the surface, though as some find out personal information about the author or celebrity they so admire or that friendly neighbor or employee who appears normal on the outside, nothing could be farther than the truth. It's easier to fill in the blanks in our minds about others without really getting to know them...or their darkest secrets.

Rating: 9/10

Director: Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride)
Stars: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
Link: IMDB

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