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HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (USA 2015) ***1/2
Directed by Michael Snowalter
Starring: Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly
Review by Gilbert Seah
The new showcase for two-time Oscar Winner Sally Field (NORMA RAE and PLACES IN THE HEART) places her in the ‘You really like me, you really, really like me” role of an sixty-plus data entry cubicle office worker, called Doris Miller. Begging to be loved, she falls for a much younger office worker, the new art director John Fremont (Max Greenfield). The question of whether she will get the young man to notice and fall in love with her is kept current from the start to the end of the film – a point that writer/director Michael Snowalter keeps as a delicate balancing act, and one that makes the film work.
Films about women falling for much younger men seldom work and end up disastrous. Examples are Genevieve Gilles playing a Baroness falling for younger Michael Crawford in HELLO-GOODBYE and Jean Simmons falling for the younger LEONARD WHITING in SAY HELLO TO YESTERDAY. Even when it is the other way round, with an older male and younger girl as in the Clint Eastwood directed BREEZY with William Holden and Kay Lenz, the idea fails. So, HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS is already quite an achievement.
The film’s premise is simple enough. The film begins with Doris’s mother’s funeral. Her brother and wife wishes her to sell the house she and her mother she had cared had lived in. She declines, being a hoarder. At work, she accidentally bumps into young and gorgeous Max Fremont who ends up being the new guy in the office. She pines for him. She gets the help of her best friend’s 13-year old daughter to make friends on his Facebook account. Doris and Max hang out and Doris falls for him. Of course, the audiences is never sure of Max’s feelings for her and this is what keeps the film interesting – the audience is guessing. And right up to the very last reel.
Snowalter’s film works as both a comedy and drama. Fortunately, he keeps sentimentality at bay. Sally Field is nothing short of marvellous in the role of Doris, proving her mettle at getting both laughs and sympathy. Having won two Oscars for dramatic roles, she expectedly shines in the dramatic parts making a good balance, as in the segment she finally makes her stand against her bullying brother (Stephen Root) and wife (Wendi McLendon-Covey).
But Snowalter film plays more for comedy. The script that he co-wrote has sufficient comedic set-ups – the electronic concert party; the best friend’s Thanksgiving dinner without Doris; the inspirational seminar with guru Peter Gallagher to mention a few.
But it is Field that makes the film work, aided by really apt supporting performances from a superb supporting cast especially from Tyne Daly as her best friend, Roz. Greenfield who plays the young hunk has good chemistry with Field, supplementing Doris as the could be, could-not-be interested beau.
But mostly it is the film’s charm, credibility and humour that makes this film a cut above other films in this genre. Yes, we really, really like Doris!
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