There are countless excellent novels by Stephen King, nor the excellent films made from it. Whether shining (1980) by Stanley Kubrick remains the reference on the subject, Misery (1990) is another feature film that does well. Chilling behind closed doors (literally and figuratively), Rob Steiner’s film keeps its viewer spellbound to the rhythm of a duplicitous kidnapping. It will earn Kathy Bates an Oscar for Best Actress.
Misery centers around two characters. Paul Sheldon is a bestselling authorbest known for his series of novels Misery, the name of their heroine whom he got tired of and whom he wishes to kill in order to be able to move on. Annie Wilkes is a retired nurse living in a cabin in Colorado. She is, furthermore, an avid fan of the Misery character and Sheldon’s work. From the beginning, the meeting of these two beings begins in drama: under the blizzard of the Colorado winter, Paul Sheldon goes off the road. By luck – or bad luck? – Annie discovers his car, extracts the writer from the vehicle and, having brought him home, treats him. Paul wakes up with both legs broken, he is bedridden with Annie who tells him that the telephone communications are cut for a moment.
His car buried in the snow, no one knows what happened to Paul, left to his own devices with Annie, who is only interested in one thing: the future of Misery.
Misery is a film that works in particular for its atmosphere, a very large part of which is due to the work of its two main performers. Nothing is ever said to the spectator: everything is assumed, thanks to a play of glances, of sentences left in suspense and pronounced out of the blue, but yet heavy with meaning. The Annie Wilkes composed by Kathy Bates is a strange mixture of subtlety and intensity. Alternately honeyed and explosive, the nurse who “collected” Paul is as chilling as the snowy landscape. Facing her, the now crippled writer hides the general state of alarm that his situation quickly inspires in him. The use of the telephone, transport to the hospital are always postponed, under cover of apologies pronounced with a sorry smile. And then, as the days go by, these contacts with the outside are no longer even mentioned… Paul Sheldon has understood this: no need to insist. The spectator shares his psyche with him: one feels recluse with this man, one anguishes and one hopes for him.
The confinement takes on the false air of vacation here: no prison cell or padded room in a psychiatric asylum. All along Miserythe captivity is due to the natural elements, to this unleashed weather which broke Paul’s two legs, which buried his vehicle and all traces of his passage, and which cut off the communications of this already well isolated house.
Of course, the confinement is also due to the human madness of a fan nurse who decides to keep her literary hero to herself. Without ever admitting her abuse and her madness, Annie plays with her power by mixing fake grief, feigned anger and a whole range of passive aggressive acts to try to make Paul feel guilty, to pretend that everything that is happening is normal. Without ever acknowledging that she has shaped the situation to gain control over her captive – her patient, in her eyes – Annie proves to be all the more terrifying in that she has to be brushed in the direction of the hair, since she does not never admit the evil that animates him. This is what creates this very special atmosphere in which the spectator, well sheltered in his sofa or his bed, takes pleasure: the nurse’s house is cozy, the snow outside is immaculate, Paul, bedridden, receives his three meals a day and makes conversation to an Annie all smiles to hear about Misery. And yet, nothing goes and the second his captor’s back is turned, Paul frantically searches for a way to escape, with constant tension and the threat of seeing her surprise him.
In Misery, the outside world no longer exists, except for that Sheriff Buster who is still looking for Paul. But again, these scenes revolve around captivity, at least disappearance. In this feature film, all trace of lightness is gone. Passage after passage, the spectator has in mind only the kidnapping, the potential salutary escape and a long-awaited outside help. And in the house, Annie leads the dance: Sheldon’s survival hangs on the mood swings of a criminal who thinks she’s her friend; that kind of perverse friendship that has long since passed the stage of manipulation.
Without revealing more about the plot, we can say Misery that it is an intense film, very gripping and whose cathartic benefits leave a lasting impression. Obviously due to Stephen King’s storytelling talent, Misery is also masterful thanks to the flawless interpretation of its main characters. Kathy Bates even won the Oscar for Best Actress for this role. When we know that another actress, Kim McGuire (crybaby, 1990), had signed for the role, but that it was finally reassigned to Kathy Bates, we have few regrets: the actress did an impeccable job on the character of Annie Wilkes. And we, spectators, enjoy comfortably watching this thriller captivating.
Trailer : Misery
We would love to say thanks to the writer of this post for this remarkable web content
Misery, according to Stephen King: Kathy Bates as James Caan’s torturer | LeMagduCine