Misery | Chicago Reader

Misery

Rated R 107 minutes 1990

A skillfully pared-down (if psychologically thin) horror thriller (1990), adapted by William Goldman from a Stephen King novel and crisply directed by Rob Reiner. A best-selling novelist (James Caan), who's recently killed off his beloved romantic heroine in order to do more personal writing, gets caught in a blizzard, suffers a nearly fatal car accident, and is saved by a fanatic admirer (Kathy Bates) who holds him captive in her isolated house. The setup recalls Martin Scorsese?s The King of Comedy, though the fan has no aspirations for stardom and the macabre elements milk a certain snobbery and complacent misogyny. Fortunately, the situation is made more complex by the novelist being a rather supercilious creep and by Bates's remarkably nuanced (and deservedly Oscar-winning) performance, which gives her character considerable density and humanity in spite of her monstrous aspects. The economy of both script and direction is admirable—there's no wasted motion in sight—though the film's anthology of genre cliches ultimately undermines Bates's heroic efforts to make it something more. With Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, and Lauren Bacall.

Film Credits

Director: Rob Reiner

Producer: Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, Jeffrey Stott and Steve Nicolaides

Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis, J.T. Walsh and June Christopher

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Misery

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