Editor’s Notes: Hello, My Name Is Doris will be released on its respective home video format on June 14th.
Hello, My Name Is Doris (Sony Home Entertainment) stars Sally Field as the title character, a middle-aged woman we first see at her mother’s funeral. She has spent her life taking care of her Mom and now has to make some decisions. The Staten Island house where they lived is filled with clutter, and her brother and sister-in-law are eager for Doris to clean it out and move out so the house can be sold.
Doris is a long-time employee at a firm where most of her co-workers are much younger. She’s shy and her fashion sense is more 1970s than 21st century. Enter a handsome, charming, thirty-something new employee, John Fremont (Max Greenfield). Doris’ heart goes a-flutter whenever she encounters him in the hallway or coffee room. She recognizes her attraction isn’t appropriate but still wants to know more about this guy who brightens her workday and stirs long-dormant feelings.
First and foremost, this film is a showcase for Ms. Field, who provides a well-faceted portrait of Doris. With a role that could easily have slipped into caricature, she makes Doris a fully fleshed-out person. Doris is not a hopeless sad sack, but a hopeful woman who desires more out of a life that has bypassed her. There is pathos, humor, determination, and even anger in this woman who, spurred by the presence of John Fremont, decides to open a few new doors for herself.
Mr. Greenfield is basically playing Doris’ White Knight, less the armor and steed. His job is to project charm, sweetness, and innocence. Unaware of Doris’ infatuation with him, he regards her as a cool older woman and welcomes her friendship. Much of the humor of the film derives from Doris’ attempts to fit into John’s lifestyle — attending an electronic rock concert, accepting his invitation to Thanksgiving dinner, meeting his circle of friends, and finding a way into his Facebook account to learn even more about him. John is a well-adjusted guy who senses and responds to something earnest and sincere in Doris.
As Doris’ longtime friend and confidante, the reliable, if judgmental, widow Roz, Tyne Daly is absolutely terrific and believable. Whenever Roz speaks or uses a prop or glances at another person, it is totally, completely real. Ms. Daly adds both humor and grounding to a story that often feels so lightweight, it might drift into the clouds. The practical voice of reason, Roz isn’t at all timid about warning Doris against the path she is pursuing.
Director Michael Showalter incorporates a few fantasy scenes in which Doris imagines a romantic moment only to be shocked back to reality in short order. These scenes are broadly scripted and comically give us a window into Doris’ mind.
A small film with nary a special effect in sight, Hello, My Name Is Doris is old-school filmmaking in which characters are the primary attraction. It’s enjoyable to watch Ms. Field sink her teeth into an offbeat, colorful role and etch a memorable portrayal. As we watch Doris transform from introverted woman going through the motions of life to one who has finally learned how to embrace it, we feel happy for her blossoming yet concerned that she may be heading for disappointment. It is this conflict that draws us in and keeps us intrigued.
Rated R, Hello, My Name Is Doris is a film with lots of heart. Ms. Field gives one of her best screen performances, delving deeply into what makes her character tick. A victim of grief and insecurity, dressed in unflattering clothing and socially inept, her individuality and reticence to stand out make her all the more fascinating.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include deleted scenes, alternate opening, and filmmaker commentary.