Hello, My Name is Doris is a film I would say is not entirely what it seems. If you watch the trailer (I recommend you don’t because they often ruin the whole movie and/or create false expectations) it appears to be a quirky comedy about an older woman who pursues a younger man she works with and nothing beyond that. That is in fact a main plot point of the film, but director and writer Michael Showalter and writer Laura Terruso take that story to a deeper level to present a heartwarming, sad and yes sometimes comedic character study of Doris (Sally Field.)
According to an interview with Michael Showalter and Sally Field on Nerdist, he wanted her to star as the title character and her involvement in the film was critical to getting it made.
Doris lives on Staten Island and works in the city where one day she meets John, her company’s new art director from California. Having just lost her mother and continuing a lifetime of putting herself aside for other people, Doris meeting John (Max Greenfield) is an awakening that, while misdirected for a while, takes her to a new point in her life she has been wanting to get to for a long, long time.
It’s not just their meeting, but a friendship, that movies Doris forward even as she takes a few missteps along the way and misconstrues what is happening with John.
I think that had to happen for Doris and I also think, bridging the gap between cinema and real life for a second, most people will find some way to relate to Doris, and even John, as they experience love and loss all with a good share of social awkwardness in the background.
Hello, My Name Is Doris is a simple story that maybe has been done before in some form or another, but together Showalter, Terruso, Field and Greenfield take it to another level.
I think it’s how they used just enough restraint in the situations Doris faces with John combined with an imaginative look at the many facets of her character to balance who she was and who she becomes that makes this film and story work.
Field, as an established actress with an admirable library of work in her career, explores something new in Doris and didn’t let anything hold her back while showing the character during her high and low moments.
I really think anyone can appreciate this film, including scholars of the subject, comedy nerds and anyone in between.
It will also stand the test of time, I think, or as Doris says about her aged duck sauce in the fridge, “It keeps!”
For complete lack of a better phrase, don’t judge a book by its cover with Hello, My Name is Doris. It will surprise you, make you laugh and look at your own life through the eyes of Doris. If you don’t take away any life lessons from this story, at least consider a fashion tip or two from Doris.
She’s a baller.