In 1990 with a fresh decade ahead of the entertainment industry Stephen King‘s novel Misery was released on film. It is easy to recall the hype of this flick and the rave review it received. James Caan and Kathy Bates came together as leads and blew the audience and critics away. Bates was well suited for the role and was convincing having to let loose during her characters emotional exploits. It was impressive to watch her throughout the film. Caan fit well playing a frustrated author who is given no choice but to try to keep Annie pleased with him to avoid the torture that arises along with her anger. Both gave excellent performances.
Misery follows Paul Sheldon (Caan), a wordsmith who recently ended his long running series of novels ‘Misery’s Child‘ . On a drive to his country retreat Sheldon’s car runs off the road where the unconscious and injured writer is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Bates) whose attempts to care for Sheldon prove false when it’s realized he has no option to leave her home.
Directed by Rob Reiner, Misery is a well filmed and thoughtful movie. Having the majourity of the feature being shot in one room could not have been an easy task to work around. The camera angles and Reiner‘s own stylings gave room for a new feeling in every scene. Watching Annie lose her cool over reading passages of Sheldon’s new book was plain awesome. The upper-cut on the camera really worked for me and made it easy to relate to feeling helpless against someone who is clearly disturbed. Not Reiner‘s best work but he did manage to deliver a chilling movie to his audience.
Admittedly I am not a fan of Stephen King‘s efforts. It doesn’t appeal to my senses. I have not read the novel Misery and probably won’t. Having said that, I am a fan of this movie. As much as I lean towards the bloody and darker sub-genres, Misery definitely had it’s own scares and was heavy on suspense.
The storyline was strong and forward. There wasn’t an abundance of supporting actors to take away from the depth of Annie and Paul’s relationship. Richard Farnsworth (Buster, Sheriff among several other duties) was great for a bit of comic relief from the tension throughout and a special nod to Frances Sternhagen who played Buster’s wife for her perfect timing and ability to convey an adorable and bitter senior. Other than the two love birds and Sheldon’s publicist Marcia Sindell acted powerfully by Lauren Bacall there were no other characters. It would have been a treat to see Bacall have a stronger role in the feature but for what it is worth she certainly stood out when on screen.
Misery is a great movie for its time. Would I protest a reboot? Not at all. It would be fantastic to see a darker more disturbed Annie attempting to care for a more inept patient. There is plenty of room for more violence and a proper attempt by the police to find the long missing writer. Misery has great potential to be truly macabre.
All in all Misery is a great thriller and one I return to often. Should not be missed.