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Classic of the Week: Misery (1990)


Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film directed by Rob Reiner based on Steven King’s 1987 novel of the same name. It stars James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth and Frances Sternhagen. The plot follows an obsessive fan who holds an author captive and forces him to write a story.

Paul Sheldon (Caan) is a famous author of Victorian romance novels featuring a character named Misery Chastain. He wants to focus on more serious stories, so he writes a manuscript for a new novel that he hopes will help create a new career after Misery. While traveling from Silver Creek, Colorado to his home in New York City, Paul is caught in a blizzard and his car goes off the road, making him unconscious. A nurse named Annie Wilkes (Bates) finds Paul and takes him to her home.

Paul regains consciousness and finds himself strapped to a bed with broken legs and a dislocated shoulder. Annie claims to be his number one fan and makes his stay there even more miserable after reading his manuscript fr his new novel.

This is definitely one of Stephen King’s best stories and one of the best film adaptations. It grabs you from the very start and knocks the breath out of you. Kathy Bates is not the sweet lady she was in Fried in Green Tomatoes, she’s a master manipulator, an evil and sick woman seeking revenge on a famous individual. Bates is outstanding as Annie Wilkes, proving she can play any type of character. She abuses Paul so bad that she causes him to be wheelchair bound from breaking his legs. James Caan is terrific as author Paul Sheldon. He starts out helpless, until he finds a way to seek revenge on Annie and give her a taste of her own medicine.

The majority of this film takes place in Annie’s remote house. It is very disturbing, so it is not for the faint of heart. Both characters are sent through Hell and back. Annie eventually gets what she deserves and Paul rescued, but the road there is extremely gruesome, with one fighting another for most of it. Some scenes start out slow, but usually have a disturbing part, that will make you wary of strangers.

This movie is full of painful scenes, so definitely not a family flick. There’s violence, foul language, drinking, smoking, and drug usage. The extreme gore may upset some viewers, so use caution when watching this film. This is an unsettling movie from beginning to end, but it is very well done from the acting to the writing, It is truly one of the best psychological thriller films of all time. Adults only 4.5/5

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