Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hello, My Name is Doris

Directed by Michael Showalter and written by Showalter and Laura Terruso that is based on two short films by Terruso, Hello, My Name is Doris is the story of a woman in her 60s who falls for a much-younger co-worker as she tries to woo him as well as become independent from her family and older friends. The film is an exploration of a woman trying to put some spark in her life as she goes after a man who is young enough to be her grandson. Starring Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Beth Behrs, Natasha Lyonne, Stephen Root, Elizabeth Reaser, and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Hello, My Name is Doris is a delightful and charming film from Michael Showalter.

The film follows a shy and eccentric woman whose mother had just died as she falls for a new and much-younger co-worker in his 20s as she tries to figure out how to get his attention. It’s a film that explores a woman who is given a new jolt in life through this young man as she tries to understand what he likes and what he does while she is coping with the loss of her mother as well as being known as a hoarder of things she finds and brings to her home. The film’s screenplay by Michael Showalter and Laura Terruso shows the world that Doris (Sally Field) is in as someone who has collected so many things at her home as she wears quirky yet colorful clothes, sports a weave, and sometimes wears two glasses to read things. Yet, Doris lives alone despite the offer from her younger brother Todd (Stephen Root) to live at his home with his wife Cynthia (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and their two kids as well as sell the house.

Doris refuses as she spends much of her time with longtime friend Roz (Tyne Daly) who has spent much of her time raising her 13-year old granddaughter Vivian (Isabelle Acres) since her daughter is in prison awaiting a parole hearing. When Doris meets this young man in John Fremont (Max Greenfield), she falls head over heels for him as she turns to Vivian for help on things about him as well as creating a fake Facebook account and getting advice from a self-help guru. Learning about what music he likes and other interests, she does whatever he can to get to know him and be with him as there are these moments of fantasy into what Doris would see life with John is like yet she would have to contend with reality. Not only for the fact that she’s in her 60s and John is in his 20s but also other realities that include reasons into why she’s a hoarder and how this pursuit of John has alienated friends and family.

Michael Showalter’s direction is very straightforward as it opens with the funeral of Doris and Todd’s mother as it play into how odd Doris is in the way she looks as well as how she’s coping with the loss. Shot largely in Los Angeles though many of the exteriors are shot in New York City where the film is set, Showalter mainly goes for intimate compositions with the usage of medium shots and close-ups while exploring the world of modern-day New York City youth culture such as indie music, EDM, and other places that hipsters are known to frequent at. There are moments in the film where Showalter would create these moments of fantasy as it relates to Doris’ reaction towards John as it is playful. There are also moments in the film that showcase the humor very naturally such as the scene where Doris is eating dinner at Todd’s home where she’s wearing odd clothes because she’s about to attend a EDM concert with John later in the night. It’s among these weird moments that has Doris be part of a world she has no clue of what it’s about yet they would include her as they think she’s really cool. The film’s tone does change in the third act as it relates to not just the reality that Doris is facing about herself but also John and his own life as it’s filled with things that she doesn’t really know about him or what he wants in his life. Overall, Showalter crafts a charming and heartfelt film about a woman in her 60s who falls for a man in his 20s.

Cinematographer Brian Burgoyne does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as much of it is straightforward with the exception of the neon lights for the scenes at the EDM concert. Editor Robert Nassau does nice work with the editing as it is straightforward for much of the film with the exception of a few scenes such as Doris’ fantasies and a montage sequence of her dressing for a party. Production designer Melanie Jones, with art directors Catherine Devaney and Eve McCarney plus set decorator Karuna Karmarkar, does fantastic work with the look of the office floor that Doris and John work at as well as her home that is filled with all of these antiques and stuff she’s found over the years.

Costume designer Rebecca Gregg does brilliant work with the costumes from the colorful and offbeat clothes that Doris wears throughout the film as it adds so much to her character with everyone else being straightforward. Sound editor Tom Paul does terrific work with the sound as it is straightforward with the exception of the concert scene. The film’s music by Brian H. Kim is wonderful for its low-key score of soft orchestral and jazz-like pieces while music supervisor Andrew Gowan creates a fun soundtrack that features a mixture of EDM music and pop music to play into the different world and musical tastes of John and Doris.

The casting by Sunday Boling and Meg Morman is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Jack Antonoff of Fun as the singer of the EDM band that John and Doris sees, Rebecca Wisocky as Doris’ boss, Kyle Mooney as band photographer, Rich Sommer as a young co-worker of Doris in Robert, Kumail Nanjiani as another young co-worker of Doris in Nasir, Natasha Lyonne as a co-worker of Doris in Sally, Don Stark as John’s uncle Frank who tries to flirt with Doris at a party, Isabelle Acres as Roz’s granddaughter Vivian who helps Doris know more about John, Caroline Aaron as a friend of Doris and Roz in Val, and Peter Gallagher in a terrific small role as the self-help guru Willy Williams. Beth Behrs is superb as a young woman named Brooklyn who is often seen with Jack during the film’s second-half while Elizabeth Reaser is fantastic as Doris’ psychiatrist Dr. Edwards as a woman that is trying to understand Doris as well as see the things in Doris’ home. Wendi McLendon-Covey is wonderful as Todd’s wife Cynthia who is always critical of what Doris has in her home as she would unknowingly push Doris’ buttons while Stephen Root is excellent as Doris’ brother Todd who is just trying to help her as well as express his own issues with her as it relates to their mother.

Tyne Daly is amazing as Roz as Doris’ longtime friend who is still dealing with the loss of her husband many years ago as she becomes baffled by Doris’ strange behavior as well as having to accept the fact that she is getting old. Max Greenfield is brilliant as John Fremont as a young man in his 20s who becomes a new superior for Doris as he is curious yet welcoming towards Doris’ presence as he admits to the difficulties he’s having in his life at work and in his personal life. Finally, there’s Sally Field in a spectacular performance as Doris as this woman in her 60s who falls for this young man as she tries to get his attention as it’s this incredible mixture of comedy and drama where Field just exudes this air of awkwardness and physicality to her performance as it’s really a master at work making it one of Field’s defining performances.

Hello, My Name is Doris is a remarkable film from Michael Showalter that features a phenomenal performance from Sally Field. Along with its ensemble cast, themes on aging and exploring new worlds, and moments that are funny and endearing. It’s a film that manages to be not just entertaining but also give audiences something full of heart in this exploration of a woman trying to nab a man that is much younger than her. In the end, Hello, My Name is Doris is a sensational film from Michael Showalter.

Michael Showalter Films: (The Baxter) – (The Big Sick) – (The Lovebirds (2020 film)) - The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021 film) - (Spoiler Alert)

© thevoid99 2017


Brittani Burnham said...

You liked this a lot more than I did. I left feeling very annoyed with it

Often Off Topic said...

Great review! I really enjoyed this one too. It's not like we're short on workplace comedies, but this felt so different from all the rest. Sally Field is an absolute delight!

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I can see why it might not work for everyone but I had fun watching it.

@Allie Adkins-Sally Field was at the top of her game. How the fuck did Burt Reynolds leave her for that blonde bimbo Loni Anderson? His mother was right, he shouldn't have married her. Besides, Field was so fun to watch and prove she's still got it.