Film review: Sally Field charms, dazzles in 'Hello, My Name is Doris'
In short: Doris (Field), a mousy cubicle dweller in her sixties, is inspired to pursue a much younger co-worker ("New Girl" star Max Greenfield). Beth Behrs, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Stephen Root and Tyne Daly also star. (Watch the trailer)
"Doris" is a showcase to remind audiences of the remarkable talent of Sally Fields. Writer-director Michael Showalter ("The Baxter") and Fields create a multi-dimensional titular character who is as offbeat as she is completely relatable. At first blush, Doris is almost alien from the rest of humanity - she is a shy, awkward woman who lives alone in the house she grew up in, surrounded by a lifetime of hoarded found items and draped in an array of clashing pattern outfits that are only trendy today and quite by accident.
But Field's remarkable performance allows Doris's humanity, pathos and giddiness of infatuation radiate through her odd exterior. Field effortlessly taps into the decades of melancholy within Doris, a woman who spent much of her life caring for her mother instead of living her own life. And Field also exudes a youthful joy and energy as she (perhaps overzealously) pursues her office crush - a man decades younger than her. Doris is genuinely lovestruck, and it's absolutely fun to watch her blossom as she discovers a youth she denied herself for so many years.
The odd b-plot involving Doris's brother trying to move her out of the family house, so they can sell it, isn't as strong as the main story arc. The cluttered house packed with hoarded nonsense is predictably a metaphor for Doris's journey. And metaphors that obvious tend not to be too effective storytelling tools. Perhaps there are more subtle and less alienating ways to establish Doris' stunted life experience (and the sacrifices she made) than to make Doris a hoarder.
Final verdict: "Doris" is an adorable, light indie comedy that dazzles when Sally Field takes centerstage.
"Hello, My Name Is Doris" opens in theaters nationwide March 18. This comedy is rated R for language.