Starring: Kathy Bates, James Caan, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Graham Jarvis, Clayton Moore, Lauren Bacall
Paul Sheldon is a novelist best known for a collection of books about a woman named Misery. After finishing a manuscript and checking out of the cabin he has been staying in, he begins to drive back home in a blizzard. He loses control of the car and it spins of the road. Injured and unconscious, it looks as if he will freeze to death, but someone manages to “stumble” across the wreckage, and haul him from the car to safety. This someone is Annie Wilkes, Paul Sheldon’s self-proclaimed number one fan. It is not long before he comes to realise that his saviour is in fact an obsessed, crazed, unstable woman who will do anything it takes to keep her and Paul together.
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Misery is based on the 1987 Stephen King novel of the same name, and is best described as a psychological thriller/horror.
Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her role as Annie Wilkes, and rightly so. Her commitment to the role is extraordinary, and she manages to portray the various different sides of Annie with great believability and ease. Annie has a split personality. On the one hand she is a devout Christian, her crucifix necklace on display for the entirety of the film, quoting from the bible regularly and even believing that God has spoken directly to her. At times she is very childlike - jumping and spinning around when she is excited. These both add to the unease you feel about her sinister actions. She is from the outsider’s point of view the person you would least expect to be kidnapping and torturing people.
Paul (James Caan) isn’t just anybody to Annie though. She is an avid fan of him and his Misery novels. She is beyond obsessed with him, knowing everything about him. She knows where he goes to write his novels (admitting to sitting outside the cabin when he is there). Is this why she lives where she lives? Did she have something to do with the car accident that resulted in him being a prisoner in her home? I would say yes.
In this sense the film mocks people who become obsessed with things that are not real. At times you find yourself laughing at just how sad Annie is. We are informed that Annie turned to reading these books after her husband left her (can’t think of why considering her placid temperament...) and she became completely enthralled by the character of Misery, secluding herself from any “normal” social aspects of life. Annie appears to have no friends and is more concerned with the fictional