Misery (1990) – Review

Obviously non-biographical, you can see a combination of King’s imagination and fear playing out on a simplistic, and easy, cinematic telling of Misery. One ‘King trait’ I love is the abundance of macabre humour, no matter how dark his twisted tales go, there’s always a sardonic punchline hidden somewhere. This time it’s done mostly through the performance of James Caan. Reiner left most of the terror in Bates’ hands. Caan is just the agonised protagonist, and he plays it fantastically. But he’s easily outshone by Bates, but that’s nothing new. Neither Reiner’s direction or Caan’s performance makes this film memorable, it’s 100% Bates, through and through, this is Kathy’s shining moment.

She’s insane, bloody insane I tell you! She’s a maniac. Hugs and cuddles, pigs and blankets then knives and fire only moments later. Annie Wilkes’ soft/kind-hearted performance sells the defeat in Caan’s eyes when his attempts to murder her go wrong. She acts like something just went wrong, but everyone in the audience is begging for her to “drink the wine!”. Her sweet and innocent performance makes your fear for Sheldon (Caan) more. And then she does the unthinkable. She murders the sweetest character in the film. And what’s worse is how the film neglects to show the consequences and repercussions of his death. It’s sad what happened to Sheldon and all, but what about the poor wife?! She’s completely overlooked and it’s agonising.

The whole film is selling this naturalistic tone to make everything more believable, but then it does a few things like this which ruin the illusion and immersion, these loose threads left me noticing how hollow certain aspects of the film are. Like what happened with the pig?! And how does she make any money? How come nothing else happens with the agent? She vanishes from the story and just appears at the end. All these little niggles leave the film feeling rushed, with glossed over moments and unresolved ideas.

It’s a well done film, but it’s far from fully developed. But it’s still awesome though. I just hate the incomplete feeling it gives me.


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