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Monday, October 19, 2020

Life + Arts

At SXSW: Field shines in ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’


Doris (Sally Field) is in the process of grieving her mother, whom she cared for until her death. Doris and her mother were hoarders — a source of worry for her brother and his wife (Stephen Root and Wendi McLendon-Covey). However, Doris forgets that when the young and handsome John (Max Greenfield) comes to work at her company. She’s immediately taken with him and does everything she can to get his attention, despite her best friend (Tyne Daly) advising her against chasing a younger man.


“Hello, My Name is Doris” is an extremely charming and funny independent film and a brilliant showcase for the talented Sally Field. With somewhat of an odd-duck premise, I wasn’t sure how this film would play out. Rest assured, the entire cast contributes, making this one of the more enjoyable movies of SXSW.

Doris experiences a lot of pent-up emotion, and the film puts an emphasis on the aspect of finding love and self-help. Doris is easily swayed by people and uses flirting tactics that usually work best for women in their 20s.

Max Greenfield is one of the most charismatic guys in the business right now, and if you’ve ever seen FOX’s hit television series “New Girl,” you’ll understand just how hilarious this guy can be by doing very little to evoke laughter. The energy and personality that he adds is the perfect balance between he and Field, and the two work wonders together.

Director Michael Showalter co-wrote this film with Laura Terruso, and their final product is special to them. There’s an intimacy that they bring with their writing, and you’re so easily won over by these extraordinary characters because you care about what they’re doing and what happens to them. The duo land most of their jokes with spectacular fashion but can also switch things up and bring in some rather sad and emotional sequences. The fantasy sequences are especially funny; the pair knows how to use physical humor to their advantage.

With such a talented cast, many of the characters feel forced in the sense that they’re either helping or distracting Doris from her main goal. There’s the whole subplot of her hoarding and the effect her family has on her, but not enough light is shed on that side of Doris. We most often get the bubbly and good-spirited Doris, and there’s only one moment where she truly breaks down. Her meltdown (of sorts) felt rushed, and then the hoarding really tries to make its claim as a part of the film. They’re not bad sequences, but they did feel somewhat out of place.

“Hello, My Name is Doris” is by far and away the most well-received film at the festivals thus far, with everyone who’s seen it singing its praises immediately after. It definitely has a feel-good vibe to it and to call it a crowd-pleaser wouldn’t be too far from the truth. “Doris” is the type of film that gives you exactly what you want to see.

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