Title: Hello, My Name Is Doris
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Michael Showalter
based on the short film “DORIS & THE INTERN” by Laura Terruso
Music: Brian H. Kim
Cinematography: Brian Burgoyne
A US indie sleeper, grosses over $14 million in its theatrical release earlier this year. Filmmaker Michael Showalter’s second feature is a star-vehicle for acting legendary Sally Field, who plays the titular Doris Miller, an old maiden in her sixties, living in Staten Island (aka. where the spooky murder takes place in Brian De Palma’s SISTERS 1973).
The opening scene is the funeral of Doris’ mother, whom she has been ministering to for as long as she can remember. Now, mum is gone, what has left to her is a house stacked with numberless items of amassed recollections. Her brother Todd (Root) and his stuck-up wife Cynthia (McLendon-Covey) strongly urge her to see a therapist (Reaser) for her pack-rat habit, and maybe she can move out so they can sell the house, talking of selfishness and pragmatism.
During her workplace, Doris has a crush on the newly-arrived co-worker John (Greenfield), who is only half her age. Boosted by the motto of turning “impossible” to “I’m possible”, which she has garnerd from a self-help seminar, Doris bucks up to pursue this May-December crush, a new door is open to her, when she gleans information of John from his Facebook page and steers into John’s hipster lifestyle, listening to the CD of his favourite electro-pop band, and dressing up in neon suit to attend the band’s concert hoping for meet John there, and her endeavour works, she surprisingly enjoys her new-found younger friends, because, Doris is after all, anything but dowdy, her vivid-colored, bohemian style is eccentric for her age, but in the era of manifestly advocating acceptance of each other’s difference, Doris is quite the shining example of being herself. More significantly, a platonic friendship burgeons between her and John, but that is not love she is pining for.
Inevitably and predictably, a setback emerges when Doris finds out John has a new girlfriend Brooklyn (Behrs), which breaks her heart. Out of desperation and under the influence of alcohol, Doris impulsively sends a flame under a false name on John’s Facebook page, which (in a way too simplistic manner) successfully sabotages the relationship, thus, Doris comes across as a caring friend, to comfort a despondent John and seek any chance that she could swoop in the girlfriend’s shoes. At this stage, viewers will realise that Doris has gone too far, her reckless act basically seals off the possibility of anything romantic could ever last between her and John, because sooner or later, she has an awkward confession to make, and reckoning by a normal logic and from John’s perspective, they can barely remain friends afterwards.
That is exactly what happens, it shatters Doris’ pipe dream, but on the other hand, it also strikes as a wake-up call, Doris finally musters up enough courage to say goodbye to all the token objects she and her mother have been hoarding through all these years, and move on from her old, musty life, as her best friend Roz (Daly, a fiery and imposing gran) quips “she is just a kid herself”, Doris has never grown up when she sacrifices everything else to tend to her mother. This is the life-affirming message the film intends to inform us, one can never be too late to start anew, just seize the day, and sometimes, it is not such a big deal to try something out of one’s comfort zone, as long as it is hazard-free.
A plum leading role for Sally Field, mines her impeccable dexterity in both drama and comedy departments, she can throw incredibly funny reactions when she is lost in anachronism and digital-era jargon, while in the confrontational set pieces, she is electrifyingly emotive to the hilt, yet, her wide-eyed maladroitness inspires great screen chemistry with Max Greenfield’s honest-to-goodness Prince Charming. Also, Showalter knowingly plays the tricks of diverting into Doris’ fantasy to the point of arresting rejoice, and nimbly chooses for only three scenarios lest it will become bathetic, and three indeed is the charm, a third one in the coda grants this flyweight counter-sexism dramedy an intelligent heart and a whiff of unforced cheeriness, what a wonderful viewing experience!