Paul Sheldon is a romance writer tired of writing his heroine Misery. Annie Wilkes is a former nurse who is Paul’s number one fan. After finishing up his latest non-Misery manuscript in the country he ends up in a car crash during a blizzard and Annie rescues him; Paul is badly injured and bed-ridden and Annie assures him that once the phones are restored or the roads are plowed she will get him help. However, as time wears on it becomes evident that Annie has a psychotic fixation with Paul and when she discovers that he has killed off Misery in his latest novel she holds him hostage while forcing him to write Misery’s resurrection.
Misery is one of the creepiest films I have ever seen anchored by two of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her depiction of Annie Wilkes and I have to say that the award was earned; Kathy reaches a level of insanity that shouldn’t be possible in a sane member of society and I think that it is up there with the performances of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight or Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - it’s chilling.
James Caan is no slouch either. He has the equally hard task of being the victim in this film and walks between pain, paranoia, gratitude and determination with great aplomb and not a moment feels false. It is incredibly hard to play the straight man to such a irregular character like Annie Wilkes.
One thing I did not expect from Misery was the comedic elements added by the town sheriff and deputy; they are an old married couple who obviously don’t see much action in their area and instead banter like the old couple they are. I feel in love with them immediately and thought they brought a nice relief to the otherwise nail-biting story-line.
I am still in shock that the writer and director behind Misery are the writer and director behind The Princess Bride. While I think that William Goldman and Rob Reiner are immensely talented people there could not be a film more diametrically opposed to The Princess Bride than Misery.
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: William Goldman
Paul Sheldon: James Caan
Annie Wilkes: Kathy Bates
Buster: Richard Farnsworth
Virginia: Frances Sternhagen
Marcia Sindell: Lauren Bacall
Annie: God came to me last night and told me your purpose for being here. I am going to help you write a new book.
Paul: You think I can just whip one out?
Annie: Oh, but I don't think Paul, I know.