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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hello, My Name is Doris (2016)

Sally Fields is great as Doris.  It’s not that much of an exaggeration to say that her Doris—a 60-ish, never-wed office worker whose sheltered life spent on Staten Island with a  cat, a demanding invalid mother and decades of clutter she can't bear to part with is lovable in ways that the slapstick comedians of the silent film era were.  She says almost as much as they do in public situations and it is her lack of verbalization that allows those around her to project onto her the personality they prefer.  Despite her age, she is a blank canvas, liberated by the death of her mother, but sadly almost too old to really enjoy her freedom. She even dresses the part in what used to be Salvation Army toss-offs but have since been reclaimed in this age of shabby-chic as vintage wear. We laugh at her foibles, applaud her small victories, agonize over her questionable choices and share her growth pains.
Doris develops a crush on her new coworker, who is about half her age, and he finds her as charming as we do.  He likes her, but not in that way.  Doris should become worried when her best friend points out that she is taking dating advice from a 13 year old.  In Doris' mind she is at the center of a romance novel, when the reality is that her 30-something coworkers are open to her regardless of her age.  She definitely causes some disruptions in the force that she never repairs, but we can't hold it against her too much because of just how much she is struggling to have a normal existence at the end of her life.  Really quite charming.

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