I have a new favourite film, and it's called Hello My Name is Doris.
I want to shout it from some hipster hang-out rooftop; it's the film that I've been waiting for. Why? Because the film, directed and co-written by Michael Showalter, is a glimpse of my life to come. Only, I'll be in London and the film is set in New York. And it's probably a lot funnier than my life will be.
Sally Fields plays introverted Doris, a New-Yorker in her 60s, with an eclectic fashion sense (she dutifully puts of her wig and cats eye glasses after working out) who spends her weekdays data crunching for a glossy e-commerce fashion company after she was inherited in a takeover. She alone in her mother's old house on *gasp* Staten Island. "She actually, like, has to take a boat to work," one of her colleagues points out. She's an enigma, a hoarder, a happy-go-lucky but quietly layered character.
Cue the entrance of John, the 30 year old new art director from LA, all tan and sparkling smile. After a brief and hilarious meet-cute in the lift, Doris is smitten.
Later that week, Doris is pulled along to a self-help seminar and something clicks. She could, for the first time in her life, believe that she can fight for what she wants; that her heart was worth offering up to someone. The plan to snap Jon up and carve a new life for herself begins; even if that means hanging in Brooklyn his hipster friends, ditching her friends on Thanksgiving and signing up to Facebook. As her obsession intensifies, so do her dreams of a new life- but how far will these dreams take her, and is her old life really one to leave behind?
Showalter keeps us guessing, with cut-away daydreams constantly pulling both Doris and the audience up short. What is Jon thinking? How will Sally navigate the closing in of their relationship? It's a love letter to our old crush, it's a love letter to New York and it's a love letter to the individuality that we should all wear on our sleeve.
There is more than meets to eye to both Doris and this film. There is a general preposition in the world of cinema to brush aside a playful comic film. Hello My Name is Doris is a cute, smart indie yes, but Fields gives Doris such warmth, such sincerity, that it's impossible to ignore the brevity of the role.