Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5
“I’m your number one fan.”
Novelist Paul Sheldon (Caan) has made his name and his fortune by chronicling the melodramatic exploits of his Victorian heroine Misery Chastain. But his latest, just-published hardback has killed off his creation and he’s just finished writing his first non-Misery novel. On his way to deliver the manuscript to his agent in New York, Sheldon’s car careers off the road in a blizzard and he’s left for dead. Luckily he’s rescued by reclusive local farmer Annie Wilkes. Unluckily, she’s not quite right in the head and she’s Paul’s greatest fan. She’s not best pleased when she discovers that her beloved Misery is no morezp>
It’s fair to say that the bad adaptations of Stephen King doorsteps far outweigh the good. Fortunately MISERY is one of the success stories – possibly the best of the lot. It’s a lean, taut little film, beautifully scripted by William Goldman and wonderfully cast. Caan oozes panic, desperation and frustration as Sheldon, half-crippled and imprisoned in Annie’s spare room. Kathy Bates, in the role which thrust her into the public eye, is a revelation. She gives a potentially one-note psychopath a real sense of character; bitter, disillusioned, confused. As Annie becomes more and more unhinged as the film progresses, the tension becomes almost unbearable and the vicious rough and tumble which brings Sheldon’s torment to and end is savage and satisfying. The novel is opened up somewhat by the investigation of the feisty local police chief and his wife and its nice to see cinema legend Bacall back on the screen in her cameo role as Sheldon’s agent.
MISERY works on many levels. It’s a twisted love story, it’s a story about fame and fan-worship, it’s about communication. Best of all, it’s a bloody good thriller.
THE DISC: A nice, clean transfer of the movie is accompanied by an attractive slew of extras. ‘Misery Loves Company’ is a thirty-minute retrospective featuring most of the cast and main crew, there’s a fifteen minute feature on Marc Shaiman’s music for the film and there’s the obligatory trailers and photo galleries. Two commentaries too for those with the time for such things; Rob Reiner’s chatty track is high on film-making detail, Goldman’s is drier but no less interesting. A handy addition to any collection.