Writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan ,Godfather,) crashes his car on a remote New England Road and is rescued by the seemingly freindly nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates ,Fried Green Tomatoes,). As luck would have it Annie is Sheldon’s biggest fan. It soon becomes clear that Annie is a few sandwiches short of a picnic and that Sheldon is a prisoner.
Stephen King’s literary adaptions are notoriously hit and miss, for every Stand By Me theres a Langoliers, the success from Misery stems from the talent involved. Director Rob Reiner had hits with When Harry Met Sally and the Princess Bride. Kathy Bates delivers a powerhouse performance. Caan himself starred in the Godfather and gave a fine performance. Screenwriter Willaim Goldman worked on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and their experience really shows.
The role that won Kathy Bates an Oscar, Annie Wilkes is what makes this film.Sometimes she can be calm and sweet and other times she can just lash out, anything can set the character off and this adds to the levels of tension and suspense as the audience wonders when Annie will reach breaking point and what she will do when she gets there.
As with many excellent films, Misery doesn’t throw itself down the viewers throats. Instead it slowly builds up unleashing small pockets of acting bliss in the form of Bates. The premise is fantastic and it must be celebrities worst nightmare, to be in the hands of an obsessive fan who is not mentally well.
The film bases itself on building tension so that any act of violence seem all the more effective and extreme not to mention darker. An excellent example of this is the lenghts to which Wilkes goes to to keep Sheldon captive. In the book she cuts his feet off but the film opts for the less bloody option yet still delivers an alternative that is perhaps more upsetting to witness.
An excellent film, well worth a watch.