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Hello My Name Is Doris

Krisha

March 31, 2016

Hello My Name is Doris

(** ½) R

The premise of the comedy-drama, Hello, My name is Doris­—a near elderly woman attempting to re-engage with society in a meaningful manner after a life of servitude to everyone but herself—is certainly a welcome one. Sally Field, in her first lead role in decades, is really fun to watch as the title character. There are scenes that I can’t imagine an actor of lesser talents than Field being able to pull off, which is to be expected. It’s just a shame that the actress has been saddled with a script with such uneven qualities. One minute we’re being goaded into uncomfortable laughter and the next minute we’re being asked to feel sympathy for the character of Doris. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions that sometimes works but, more often than not, comes just shy of hitting its intended target.

In the film’s early scenes we learn that Doris, who continues to work in an office job she’s apparently held for decades, has just lost her mother with whom she has spent most of her adult life, tending to her needs.

Sally Field as Doris and Max Greenfield as her crush

Doris sticks out like a sore thumb, dressed in attire suitable for a bag lady and wearing two pairs of cat’s eye glasses around her neck at all times. Her apartment is littered with the junk she and her mother have collected over the decades, which indicates she’s a hoarder. When Doris develops a crush on her new boss, John (Max Greenfield), wheels are set in motion for a change in her life in most unexpected ways. She soon begins stalking the man in ways that bring to mind Play Misty For Me and other films of its kind.

There are things to admire about HMNID. The melancholic undercurrent of sadness and regret that runs through the film is one. It’s clear that Doris is angry that she allowed the fear of disappointing her mother cloud her own judgment in terms of having her own life. I guess the film’s takeaway would be that parents should be there to serve their children and not the other way around. In the case of Doris, her mother apparently used the guilt card to poison her daughter’s life and keep her from cutting the proverbial apron strings, thus disallowing Doris to move on in a healthy way, as the character of her brother managed to do. Doris has clearly not pushed forward in a way that most psychologists would suggest is healthy in a parent and child relationship. Now that her mother is dead, she’s now truly free to live her life as she feels she should but it’s awfully tough to pack in a life of missed opportunities when you’re starting out at nearly 70 years of age. That is probably the most profound thing you’ll find in a film that’s certainly a mixed bag. 

Krisha (***) R

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults’s feature debut, Krisha, may look like one of those typical dysfunctional family portraits we’ve seen on screen so many times before but don’t be deceived. It holds its own and doesn’t overstay its welcome by coming in at a brisk 81 minutes. Sure, there are some of the elements one comes to expect in films of this genre but Krisha has a unique feel that’s difficult to articulate. It’s a slow burn but when it finally arrives at its ultimate destination you’ll be hard pressed to say that the journey wasn’t worth it even it isn’t earth shattering art.

Krisha, the film’s title is also the name of the character at the center of the film. Krisha is one of those family members that everyone seems to talk about but rarely has any actual contact with or at least until the plot unfolds.

Krish Fairchild in Krisha

Krisha has obviously had addiction problems in the past, which probably makes her family members wish for her absence from family functions. Her decision to turn up at her family’s Thanksgiving get together forms the crux of the film’s dramatic interplay setting off an eventual payoff that is evident long before it transpires.

Shults’ has cast his aunt, Krisha Fairchild, in the title role. One could argue nepotism here and I guess those accusations could be justified to some degree but Fairchild definitely has the chops to get the job done and it’s hard to argue with Shults’ decision to go with a family member in the particular case of the film. She embodies Krisha to such a degree that it makes you wonder if she isn’t just playing herself and sharing her own life experiences with the audience at times. I guess that’s the sign of someone who knows her own craft well. It doesn’t hurt matters either that the lead character and the lead actress share the same first name.

Krisha is the kind of indie film that demands patience from its audience but also rewards them as well. If you’re willing to give in to the film the takeaway is likely to be most satisfactory. Especially if you’re part of a dysfunctional family or know one. 

These movies are playing now at the Regal Ballantyne Village Stadium 5 in Charlotte.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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