Hello, My Name Is Doris-2016
Starring-Sally Field, Max Greenfield
Scott’s Review #390
Reviewed April 1, 2016
Sally Field shines in Hello, My Name Is Doris, a sweet natured indie romantic comedy that tells of a lonely Staten Island woman, and her mostly fantasy-laden relationship with her colleague, a much younger, hunky man. The film has a certain measure of predictability, but is sweet, honest, and really works well. It hardly reinvents the wheel, but rather is a story of a woman’s reawakening from a dull life and is a nice character- oriented film- refreshing in a world of retreads and super-hero flicks. Hello, My Name Is Doris is humanistic.
Doris Miller meanders through life at her crappy data entry job at an Advertising Agency in mid-town Manhattan. Having worked in the same role for decades, she is overlooked and more or less invisible to colleagues. She is the “weird old lady” or the “wallflower” who goes unnoticed. Her personal life is a dud- she lives with her mother who has recently died, is a hoarder, and is severely marginalized. Clearly, she has no dating possibilities. One day, on the elevator, heading to the office, a kind young man named John Fremont innocently pays attention to her and she becomes enamored with him. Later, she is stunned to realize that John is the new Art Director at her job. Her crush escalates as she and John become friends, and a series of misunderstandings ensue, with the added conflict of her friends thinking she is living in a fantasy world, worried she will wind up hurt.
Sally Field clearly carries this film in every way. It is nice to see her in a lead role again, which sadly, for a seventy year old actress, is a rarity these days. She convincingly plays quirky, shy, awkward, and has one melt-down scene that is a powerful testament to her continued acting ability. The character of Doris slowly blossoms and becomes rich with zest. We discover she is much more than meets the eye and these moments in the film are wonderful to experience and this is thanks to Field’s charisma.
My favorite scenes involve the nice bond between Doris and the thirteen year old granddaughter of her best pal, Roz, played by Tyne Daly. Despite the age difference, the granddaughter views her as a peer, giving daring dating advice to the inept Doris. This leads to a nice portion of the plot and some funny moments.
One unique aspect of Hello, My Name Is Doris, is that it is not a film about a May-December romance between a man and a woman, at least I did not look at the film that way. Rather, it is about a woman who finally decides to live regardless of her age. I felt her stifled and smothered by her brother and sister-in-law, who clearly did not understand that she hoarded “stuff” in her home to cope with her loneliness and to be surrounded by things that gave her comfort helped her deal. Granted, Doris clinging to one broken wooden ski from the dark ages was amusing in its cuteness.
Worth a huge note is Tyne Daly, who, from an acting standpoint, can recite the phone book and I’d be happy with that. She is one of those natural, confident, interesting, real, actresses and her scenes with Fields glistened with raw talent and emotion. Perhaps a female buddy movie with Field and Daly?
The remainder of the supporting characters are capable, but not spectacular. In fact, they are rather clichéd and one-note. For example, Doris’s colleagues view her as invisible with the classic office jokes and especially the female boss thrown into the film- possessing a hard as nails personality and coldness. I have seen these characters time after time in comedy films. Supporting actors from Orange is the New Black and Mad Men are featured as a couple of the colleagues.
Indie, fun, and with a freshness made in large part by Sally Field, Hello, My Name Is Doris is an innocent comedy with a romantic edge and some nice laughs. It is far from a masterpiece, but a good natured escape, especially for the middle-aged or senior crowd craving a non-stereotypical female character- and that is refreshing in itself.