Misery (1990)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Collector's Edition)
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Overall Rating 80%
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Ranked #624
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Connections: Misery

Novelist Paul Sheldon crashes his car on a snowy Colorado road. He is found by Annie Wilkes, the "number one fan" of Paul's heroine Misery Chastaine. Annie is also somewhat unstable, and Paul finds himself crippled, drugged and at her mercy. --TMDb
James Caan
James Caan
Kathy Bates
Kathy Bates
Richard Farnsworth
Richard Farnsworth
Frances Sternhagen
Frances Sternhagen
Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall
Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 30, 2008
When people say that no one has gotten a Stephen King adaptation right yet, point them in the direction of the 1990 theatrical release, "Misery", which still stands as one of the best King adaptations to date. Maybe it's the fact that it was directed by Rob Reiner whom, during that period of time, was one of the finest directors in Hollywood. Add into the mix James Caan and Kathy Bates and you have one hell of an entertaining film.

The film follows world famous writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who has been writing "Misery Chastain" novels for as far back as he can remember. Finally, he decides to kill off his title character and write something more in keeping with his own experiences growing up. After finishing his memoirs, he is driving on an icy road and takes a crash, almost dying. He is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), his self-proclaimed 'Number One Fan', who treats his wounds and seems like a godsend. Soon, however, Paul starts to realize than Annie is not as nice as she seems. There is a dark side that comes out on the drop of a dime. Even as he heals, Annie keeps Paul hostage in the house, forcing him to resurrect her favorite character with the threat of physical violence. Events spiral out of control until Paul is forced to fight for his life against a woman who seems prone to take it.

What makes this film work so well is simple -- Kathy Bates. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this film and she deserves every ounce of it. The character she creates here is one of the most sinister and psychologically dangerous characters the screen has ever seen, turning on a dime to a sadistic monster whom you don't want anywhere near you with a sledgehammer. Bates' timing and performances are nothing short of brilliant. As Paul Sheldon, James Caan creates a man who is crippled with fear, but is also intelligent enough to know that he can't act rashly or it might cost him his life. He realizes he has to endure her treatment as long as it takes to formulate a solid plan and set it into motion. That's what makes "Misery" work -- the idea that you have two characters who are always one step ahead of the other. They know what the other is planning and they know what the other is going to do, and they continually catch one another at it.

Also popping up in a fine supporting performance is the late Richard Farnsworth as the town sheriff who is still investigating Paul Sheldon's disappearance and starts reading his novels for clues. His journey eventually takes him to the home of Annie Wilkes. Director Rob Reiner has crafted one hell of a suspenseful picture here and he has managed to keep the tension consistently high in such a confined setting. Almost all of the action here takes place inside Annie's home, most of it inside Paul's bedroom. This never becomes boring and it never even really feels claustrophobic. The adaptation from King's source material is very admirable and it keeps most of the intent of the book on the screen without sacrificing key plot points to the Hollywood machine. "Misery" is one of the very best Stephen King adaptations featuring a truly great performance from Bates. 10/10.
Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 07/31/2008, 08:00 PM
This movie is honestly too good. I haven't seen it since 2005, so I should pick the DVD up. I agree with the rating, definitely 10/10.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 03/08/2009, 07:19 PM
Yep, no arguments here. 10/10 is very fitting. Kathy Bates really is one of the best actresses out there.
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