Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Misery (1990) (1991)

Despite its title the arrival of "Misery" was a shining beacon among a slew of dreadful Stephen King film adaptations. Based on his novel, this is a production-line thriller that is considerably enhanced by the two performances of the leads, James Caan and Kathy Bates. Both had a lot to gain from this film with Caan's career a shadow of its former self and Bates desperate for success in an industry dominated by beauty.

The tale is simple. Caan is a successful writer whose career has been made on the back of a series of novels about a 19th century heroine called 'Misery'. Driving in the Colorado area his car careens off the winter road and crashes. As luck would initially have it, former nurse Kathy Bates is passing by and drags him from the wreck. When he comes to, he is in bed being tended to by Bates in her home. His gratitude soon starts to turn to concern though, as it becomes increasingly clear that her love of his Misery novels is far from normal. The proof of her unhealthy obsession becomes only too clear once she reads his latest manuscript where Misery dies.

Her rage and insistence that he should re-write the book leads him to becoming a prisoner in her home. It's a situation with lots of standard tension tactics borrowed from the eminently superior "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane". As such it resembles a slick reworking of that film but without the classier script or direction. Where it is significantly elevated is in the terrifyingly convincing performance by Bates as a schizophrenic psychopath. Playing against this is the gruff Caan who is no physical pushover, which only adds to the effectiveness of this satisfyingly tense film.

End Credits

Director: Rob Reiner

Writer: William Goldman

Stars: Kathy Bates, James Caan, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall

Genre: Thriller

Cinema: 1991

Country: USA