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Misery (1990)

A famous novelist (James Caan) is “rescued” from a car crash by an obsessed fan (Kathy Bates).

That’s a short synopsis for a movie that seems to be forgotten over time.
In 1987 Stephen King finished his story ‘Misery’ and received high critical acclaim for it.
It wasn’t until 1989 when Rob Reiner started filming the adaptation for the big screen. Ofcourse, not being unfamiliar to Stephen King novels after directing the now classic ‘Stand By Me’, Rob managed to make a great slowburn horror movie with great performances by its cast.

That cast consisted of the aforementioned James Caan as the writer Paul Sheldon, Kathy Bates in her Oscar® winning performance as Misery, Lauren Bacall plays Paul’s agent back in New York and an elderly sherrif (the late Richard Farnsworth) and his wife (Frances Sternhagen) who can’t seem to let go of the fact that Paul Sheldon dissapeared.

And that’s the starting point for our 100-minute dive into madness.
Paul Sheldon just finished his new book and is driving home during a blizzard when disaster strikes and he spins of the road and crashes.
Critically injured, he gets pulled out of the wreckage by Misery. A middle-aged woman who claims to be his biggest fan and vows to nurse him until he’s recovered.

From this point onward, the movie presents itself for what it really is.
Much like ‘Rear Window’, the movie uses one set and one set only for the entire movie.
It’s Misery’s house, and specifically the room where Paul is being ‘nursed’ that’s the main attraction.
Whether you’re a movie fanatic or a casual watcher, you’ll probably be impressed with how much tension can be generated from being confined in a room, not able to move.

Misery is a memorable character, a very damaged woman, with lots of layers who slowly reveal itself because of the wonderful Kathy Bates. Even when it becomes evident that she won’t let Paul go and she shows signs of being a schizofrenic, you’ll still doubt if she’ll turn crazy or if she’s just a sad lonely woman.

This performance is complimented by James Caan.
As Paul Sheldon, James doesn’t have a whole lot to work with as a character who’s bedridden for 95 percent of the movie, and it’s his hint of a wry smile, sarcasm, and other subtle touches that get you engaged with his predicament.

We get a, somewhat farfetched, side story about the local sherrif who get’s the feeling that Paul (who is presumed dead by the authorities when they find his car) might not be dead after all.
There’s lots more to this story than the stuff I’ve already written, and I hope that this piece serves as a lead-in for your interest in a movie that has long been forgotten by many.

Because of the huge Marketing machine that’s behind all the new releases such as ‘The Avengers’ or the abysmal ‘The Chernobyl Diaries’ we are practically pushed into watching all the new movies.
Every now and again you should sit down and breathe in the brilliance of some older movies that have been released in the past.
‘Misery’ still stands as one of the true gems in the thriller/horror department, and as this review comes to it’s end, please have a look at the embedded trailer and give me your thoughts if you decide to watch it.

8/10 stars!

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