Misery (1990)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB

USA, 1990.  Castle Rock Entertainment, Nelson Entertainment.  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Rob Reiner, .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

This is among the best and most memorable screen adaptations of Stephen King’s novels, right up there with Carrie and The Shawshank Redemption. James Caan plays a successful novelist who leaves a secluded cabin during a snowstorm after just having completed his latest work. While on the road he suffers a terrible accident that nearly takes his life, until a local resident finds him and takes him to her cabin in safety. The resident turns out to be a former nurse (Kathy Bates) who is also his most avid reader and self-professed ‘Number One Fan’. From there, it goes from nervous to scary, scary to horrifying: Bates turns out to be completely insane, obsessed with Caan to the point where she will stop at nothing to keep him to herself and bend him to her iron will. The violence in King’s original novel has been toned down considerably by screenwriter William Goldman, but director Rob Reiner emphasizes unseen tension over visual horror and so makes a more effective film than could have been done with a to-the-letter adaptation. Bates’s role, which was originally offered to Bette Midler, led to a fantastic career of great roles in great movies, including an even better Stephen King adaptation (Dolores Claiborne). Look for Lauren Bacall in a cameo as Caan’s editor.

Academy Award:  Best Actress (Kathy Bates)

Golden Globe Award:  Best Actress-Drama (Kathy Bates)

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