Sunday, February 12, 2012

30 Days of Oscar Day 19: Misery

Movie: Misery
Year: 1991
Nominations: Best Actress - Kathy Bates

Wins/Snubs: Best Actress - Kathy Bates.  This does make me wonder how often a single nomination also results in a single win.  Bates is known for this role.

What is it about a sleeveless jumper worn by a grown woman that says creepy right away?  It's odd, but Kathy Bates pulls off innocent and creepy really well.   She plays Annie Wilkes, a nurse who is obsessed with her favorite author, Paul Sheldon (James Caan).  She happens to be following him when his car goes off the road during a blizzard and she rescues him and brings him back to her isolated cabin to recuperate from 2 broken legs and a dislocated shoulder.  Paul has just finished his most recent novel - a departure from his bread and butter, Misery Chastain series.  Annie is so pissed off when she reads his newest Misery novel because she dies.  This throws Annie into a rage and she nearly beats Paul with a table.  This is the the beginning of the insanity.  She forces Paul to rewrite his newest novel bringing Misery back to life.  It takes him just a few days to realize he's her prisoner and if he wants to live, he has to play along.  

Meanwhile, in town Richard Farnsworth is the town sheriff, married to his feisty deputy Frances Sternhagen, and they're trying to figure out what happened to the missing author.  It takes a while, but they're pretty smart.  
The movie itself is not great.  I'd stayed away from it due to the potential "horror", Stephen King aspect to it.  As usual there was much less to be afraid of than I thought.  There was one moment I jumped when Annie appeared (and there's the basic violence when she hobbles him that I turned away from), but in general the movie isn't scary.  It's mostly just watching a psychopath play with a toy.  The way it's filmed - in very tight close-up almost all the time - is supposed to be disconcerting I think, but instead it makes the action almost comical watching everything happen very close up.  The dialogue is good and Caan carries the straight character fairly well, in that you can see he wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of Annie, but knows she's crazy so he refrains.  One of the strangest things about the film is how often they reference the title - Misery is a character and obviously a state of being for Caan, and they're constantly talking about the character and never mention the inherent irony.  An odd flick, but glad I've seen it now. 


Nick said...

I love this movie and think it's rather fantastic and nightmarish. And Kathy Bates is magnificent in her role here.

Kind of surprised you didn't mention your reaction to the famous hobbling scene.

Jess said...

I'm surprised you like it - it seems so cartoonish for a thriller.

I did mention it - I turned away from it.

Nick said...

Oh, I see it now. Sorry, I must have just glanced over the comment the first time.

I guess it is a bit over-the-top at times, but I don't know... maybe it's something about my ambition of being an established novelist that adds to the creepy factor (a 'what if this happened to me?' kinda thing).