Norma Rae, Edna Spalding, Mrs. Gump, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Doris Miller. Sally Field's most recent role, Doris Miller, is a worthy addition to her amazing gallery of film performances, given since she emerged as Gidget a half century ago. An eccentric, lonely woman of advancing years, Doris has sacrificed her life to care for her now-deceased mother. Mother and daughter have evidently been hoarders, and Doris's brother and sister-in-law eagerly want her to clean up and clear out, because they want to sell the Staten Island house. Meanwhile, Doris fixates on John Fremont, a much younger man, who is the new art director in her Manhattan office, and, inspired by a motivational speaker named Willy Williams and by countless bodice-busting romance novels, she decides to pursue romantic involvement with the good looking young guy. While "Hello, My Name is Doris" plays out somewhat predictably, the film provides a showcase for Sally Field in yet another Oscar-worthy performance.
In the hands of a less gifted actress, Doris could have been little more than a caricature; a bespectacled woman who wears wigs, has a large bow in her hair, decorates her cubicle with cat calendars, and lives alone in a cluttered house with a cat. However, Fields brings restraint and depth to the character, and she convincingly conveys the shy woman's re-emergence from a decades-long cocoon. Although her pursuit of the young man borders at times on cringe worthy, Fields manages to retain her dignity and audience sympathy. Fremont, played by Max Greenfield, who is about three decades younger than Fields, kindly returns Fields's overtures of friendship, but fails to grasp that she wants more than he is prepared to offer. Doris's "Walter Mitty" like day dreams about Fremont are often amusing, but her foray into Facebook stalking takes a dark, unsavory turn.
The supporting cast is good, although none overshadow Field's star turn. Greenfield is fine as Doris's fantasy-love interest, and Tyne Daly is her usual tough-shell warm-inside self as Doris's best friend and confidante. Peter Gallagher nails the Willy Williams part and actually imparts some helpful, if clichéd advice to Doris. Directed and co-written by Michael Showalter, "Hello, My Name is Doris" may have been intended as a fantasy- exploitation film for older women, who seem to dominate the movie's audiences. Generally, May-December romances involve older men with younger women, and Field herself starred in one such film, "Murphy's Romance" with James Garner, although the age difference in that film disappeared through the stars' chemistry. However, the chemistry fails to develop herein, and Doris and John reverse the gender/age roles, which places them close to Harold and Maude, a possible turn off for some viewers. Nevertheless, the exceptional performance by Sally Field is well worth seeing and the proceedings are often amusing, even if a few scenes between her and Greenfield may make some uncomfortable.
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