Indie films are hit-or-miss: sometimes, these limited-release movies are true gems. Sometimes, they’re just a waste of time.
Hello, My Name Is Doris is one of those gems, for several reasons: Sally Field is amazing in this movie, the story and script is spot on, and the ending is brilliant.
Doris is an eccentric, shy, single, middle-aged woman who has lived with and cared for her mother for her entire adult life. Together, the two have become hoarders, and when her mother dies, all she’s left with in her life is an old house filled with the things collected over a lifetime, and her routine data entry/accounting job.
As she’s clearly considering where her life is, she almost instantly becomes infatuated with a handsome young advertising exec who moves to her New York office from the company’s California location. Thus begins a comedy of errors that nearly everyone can relate to: she tries to make herself something she isn’t to befriend him, cyber-stalks him, and ignores friends and family in the pursuit of a romance with the man. Meanwhile, her brother and his wife are pressuring her to clean out the house that she’s spent her entire life in.
In the end, the movie is about fresh starts and life changes and the things people will do for relationships, all told through the frame of reference of the naive and innocent title character. It’s a story that pushes all the right buttons–it makes you uncomfortable at the right times, happy at the right times, and sad at the right times–all because it’s a story that everyone can relate to at some level. The story doesn’t get bogged down in unnecessary details, but isn’t thin, either. It moves at an enjoyable pace, and is fairly predictable for most of the film. And yet, the ending is surprising and still very appropriate and appreciated. And no, I won’t give it away…
Sally Field pulls off the portrayal of Doris excellently: she’s awkward in ways and confident in other ways. She’s mousy and yet emotional. And considering that she’s in just about every scene in the movie, I appreciated the fact that she owned the role and yet didn’t overplay it. By necessity as the center of the story, she carries the entire movie, but doesn’t overshadow any of the other characters. Her character is consistent, and you can feel her anxiety when her family tries to clean out her house, feel her shyness when she first meets her love interest, and feel her pain when her life comes crashing down at Thanksgiving.
All-in-all, this is a breezy, heartfelt story that’s told well and acted well. Highly recommended. Four out of Five Stars.