Culture Magazine

Misery (1990)

By Newguy

logoDirector: Rob Reiner

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

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


Plot: Paul Sheldon, a successful novelist, is rescued after a snow storm by his “Number One Fan” and must rewrite his latest novel to her liking in order to stay alive.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: One of the Best


Story: Misery starts with Paul Sheldon (Caan) finishing off his latest novel and enjoying a glass on Dom Perignon before returning from his distant cabin through snow filled mountains. The conditions get worse leading to Paul to crash his car and have visions of how he has been struggling with his latest work. Paul is saved from the car wreck by Annie Wilkes (Bates) his number one fan and nurse who takes him back to her house to fix him up.

Paul publicist Marcia Sindell (Bacall) concerned that she hasn’t heard from Paul phones the local Sheriff Buster (Farnsworth) who has to decides to investigate the potential missing persons. Paul gives Annie permission to read his latest novel which leads to him learning about the mental state when it becomes clear she is easily pushed to an extreme. We continue to see how Annie has become obsessed with the Misery character Paul has created.

When Annie finishes the book she finds out that Paul has killed off her beloved character causing her to have a break down. Annie forces Paul to burn the copy of the final book and then makes Paul write a new conclusion where Misery doesn’t die at the end. With the search continuing for Paul, we watch how Paul has to try and figure out a way to survive and potentially escape the Wilkes house. As time goes by Paul works on the book only to Annie’s approval and Sheriff Buster tries to discover whether Paul could still be alive after his car is discovered. Paul learns the truth about Annie leading to him fearing for his life but can he make it out of the predicament before it is too late.

Misery takes what is a simple idea and makes it into one of the most thrilling films ever made. The only bad thing I saw in the film was the fact that with today’s technology we would have seen Paul get free quicker but that is only how certain people will see the film if they are watching think why did he use his cell phone etc. the idea of being saved by a stalker works really well for the film as it drives it to the next level because it gives our character the feeling of safety before being put into a world of horror. The film also keeps you guessing of the mind set of Annie because we see how easily she can turn from pleasant to psycho with a click of fingers. This really is one of the best stories of film time and a King classic. (9/10)


Actor Review


James Caan: Paul Sheldon successful author who while completing his latest work ends up crashing car before being rescued by Annie. After being nursed back to health he finds that he is trapped in the house forced to bring his much loved character back to life. James gives a great performance as the slightly washed up writer. (9/10)



Kathy Bates: Annie Wilkes is Paul’s number one fan and after finding him after the crash takes him back to her house to nurse him back to health. After finding out that Paul has killed off her favorite character and heroine of the book series, she makes him rewrite the story. We also see how she has been keeping secrets that will show her real nature. Kathy gives a stunning performance that rightly won her the Oscar. (10/10)



Support Cast: Misery has a supporting cast of the Sheriff and his wife who are searching for Paul as well as a publicist who is concerned, we really don’t see any other characters.


Director Review: Rob Reiner – Rob does a great job directing this film making us wonder which direction every scene will go. (9/10)


Thriller: Misery keeps you guessing through every scene between Annie and Paul. (9/10)

Settings: Misery keeps the location isolated for the two characters making it impossible for Paul to escape. (10/10)

Suggestion: Misery is one to be watch by all, it is one of those films that manages to pull you in and sympathise with both sides because of their issues. (Watch)


Best Part: Bates performance.

Worst Part: Sadly it has dated, because if it happened today we would see a lot different in the film.

Oh My God Moment: Ankle scene.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Kathy Bates Won a Oscar for her performance.

Box Office: $61 Million

Budget: $20 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

Tagline: This Christmas there will be… Misery.

Trivia: Stephen King was initially reluctant to sell the film rights to “Misery” because he was skeptical that a Hollywood studio would make a movie faithful to his vision. However, King was impressed with one adaptation of his works, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986), and agreed to sell “Misery” under the proviso that Reiner would either produce or direct the film.


Overall: Misery is one of the classics in the thriller world and shows how Stephen King can write almost anything into being thrilling.



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