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Misery

Misery

By Patrick Samuel • November 24th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
MISERY (MOVIE)
Columbia Pictures

Original release: November 30th, 1990
Running time: 107 minutes

Director: Rob Reiner
Writers: William Goldman, Stephen King (novel)

Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall

Misery

“I’m your number one fan!” I wonder how many times celebrities hear those words every day and what goes through their minds. Some may smile graciously and move through the crowds, others may mingle while seemingly basking in the spotlight, but inside are they cringing with embarrassment or shaking with fear? Would they run a mile from the fan whose gaze lingers longer than it should if it wasn’t for their publicist gently pushing them forward? After all, lurking among them could be the next John Hinckley Jr., Mark David Chapman or Günter Parche.

With Paul Sheldon (James Caan), a successful writer who’s been working on a new novel in the quiet and secluded area of Silver Creek, Colorado, we gradually come to know what he’s thinking when he meets his number one fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Paul rose to fame with a series of books that all involve a character named Misery Chastain but now he wants to work on something else. With his new manuscript finished he starts to head back to New York but he gets caught in a blizzard and his car ends up overturned in a ditch.

Annie, who just happened to be passing at the time and saw the accident, pulls him free. She throws the unconscious writer over her broad shoulders and takes him to her remote home where she gives him her special brand of TLC. When Paul wakes, she’s standing over him, and gazing fondly she says “I’m your number one fan”. With his arm broken and his legs looking like someone went over them with a steamroller, Paul’s in no state to get up but he needs medical attention. Since the phones are down and the roads are out, due to the blizzard, there’s no way to get him to a hospital, but being a nurse, Annie is only too happy to oblige.

Misery

It doesn’t take long before Paul starts to see parts of Annie’s personality that should have him bolting for the door if his legs weren’t so badly smashed up. She flips out after reading some pages from his manuscript, angered by the amount of swearing it contains. It doesn’t compare to her rage when she buys a copy of his latest book and finds out he’s killed off her beloved Misery Chastain.

“YOU! YOU DIRTY BIRD, HOW COULD YOU!”

Seeing red, Annie makes him burn his manuscript to start working on a new novel that will resurrect Misery. By now Paul realises he’s trapped. With Annie becoming more violent and unstable, he knows he has to find a way to escape. His number one fan has no intentions of letting her idol go and she’ll do anything to make sure they stay together. Anything…

Based on a novel by Stephen King, Misery combines dark humour with story that’s gripping and doesn’t let up until the closing credits. The tension builds to a palpable level as Paul tries every way possible to get away from this deranged woman, but with a bulky wheelchair and every door locked, his options are limited. MiseryWhen Annie discovers he’s found a way to leave his room while she’s out, she takes drastic action to make sure it never happens again. With a sledgehammer in hand, she performs a little “hobbling” procedure on her favourite writer.

As we see Paul’s chances of getting out alive become less and less certain, there are moments as well when we see Annie’s child-like and vulnerable side, making us wonder what happened to this woman. She spins around giddily when Paul agrees (as if he has any other choice) to write the novel she wants, exclaiming

“MISERY IS ALIVE, MISERY IS ALIVE! OH, This whole house is going to be full of romance, OOOH, I AM GOING TO PUT ON MY LIBERACE RECORDS!”

Most telling of all is the scene where it’s raining at night and she brings him his pills. She’s not her usual jovial self and she’s not in a rage. Paul asks her what’s wrong.

“The rain. Sometimes it gives me the blues. When you first came here, I only loved the writer part of Paul Sheldon. Now I know I love the rest of him, too. I know you don’t love me, don’t say you do. You’re beautiful, brilliant, a famous man of the world and I’m… not a movie star type. You’ll never know the fear of losing someone like you if you’re someone like me.”

Misery

King’s characters are complex creatures and in Misery they’re brought to life by a cast that make them unforgettable.

Veteran actor James Caan, usually known for his tough guy roles in films like The Godfather (1972) and A Bridge Too Far (1977), is magnificent as the, literally, tortured and helpless writer. Screen siren Lauren Bacall adds a touch old Hollywood as publishing agent Marsha (Lauren Bacall) but Misery belongs to Kathy Bates. Moving effortlessly between comic and villain with a tinge of tragedy, she’s enough to make Hinckley and Chapman seem sane by comparison.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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