Field makes ec­cen­tric­ity com­pelling in lead role

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Katie Walsh

Meet Doris. With her glit­tery cat-eye glasses, wacky vin­tage wardrobe and messy mop of a fake pony­tail, Doris (Sally Field) cuts the type of fig­ure who’s usu­ally writ­ten off as an ec­cen­tric sup­port­ing char­ac­ter. But, rad­i­cally, “Hello, My Name is Doris” makes this char­ac­ter the fo­cal point of its story, delv­ing into her in­ner life, de­sires and se­crets. The in­die dram­edy di­rected by Michael Showal­ter, cowrit­ten by Showal­ter and Laura Terruso, peels back the lay­ers of quirk to ex­pose the vul­ner­a­ble un­der­belly in this em­pow­er­ing tale of self-ac­tu­al­iza­tion at any age.

The plot finds Doris — mourn­ing the death of her mother, with whom she lived and hoarded — reel­ing from a new­found crush. The ob­ject of her af­fec­tion is John (Max Green­field), the new art di­rec­tor at the hip ad agency where she works.

Doris most de­cid­edly does not fit in with the uber-cool young­sters at the agency, but it takes an out­sider like John to see that Doris is the orig­i­nal hip­ster in her un-ironic granny glasses and 1950s threads.

Armed with woo-isms from a self-help sem­i­nar led by Peter Gal­lagher (“I’m pos­si­ble” be­comes her mantra), she strikes up a friend­ship and flir­ta­tion with John. Doris is soon brav­ing the wilds of the In­ter­net, cat­fish­ing John on Face­book and show­ing up at the con­certs of his fa­vorite bands: Jack Atonoff as elec­tro-pop artist Baby Goya and the Nu­clear Win­ters. With her od­dball charms, Doris is soon the coolest girl in Wil­liams­burg.

So, yes, Doris be­gins her MPAA rat­ing: R (for lan­guage)

Run­ning time: 1:30

Opens: Fri­day per­sonal growth for a guy. But that ex­ter­nal mo­ti­va­tion is just what she needs to step ten­ta­tively out­side of her com­fort zone. And John, while an oft-dis­tracted mil­len­nial type, is un­fail­ingly kind to her, which is not some­thing that Doris gets from her brother (Stephen Root), sis­ter-in-law (Wendi McLen­don-Covey) or even her bat­tle ax of a best friend, Roz (a great Tyne Daly).

At times, “Hello, My Name is Doris” can feel too real, too raw. That’s due to Showal­ter and Terruso’s script, which doesn’t shy away from any harsh truths. Doris is suf­fer­ing from im­mense trauma, grief, and se­ri­ous men­tal and emo­tional is­sues with her hoard­ing, which is ex­plored through treat­ment with a ther­a­pist (El­iz­a­beth Reaser). It’s a cute ex­te­rior on some very dark is­sues, so there are cer­tain jokes that are just too dif­fi­cult to laugh at. It’s also clear that the ro­mance with John can’t work out, though her fan­tasy se­quences let us in­dulge in the “what if.”

The ex­posed-nerve in­ten­sity is also due to Field’s bravura per­for­mance. She’s at once as perk­ily giddy as Gid­get and as fierce as Norma Rae. But there’s also a deep sense of tragedy and heart­break at her missed op­por­tu­ni­ties, and Field makes ev­ery flicker of emo­tion so real. Green­field makes a fine coun­ter­part as sen­si­tive John and demon­strates his very real lead­ing-man chops.

Not ev­ery joke lands per­fectly. The jabs at Brook­lyn hip­sters and their ar­ti­sanal, LGBT thingam­abobs are old hat and rely of­ten on Doris as a fish out of wa­ter. But the film firmly has its heart in the right place. “Doris” demon­strates the power of de­cency, kind­ness, own­ing up to things and con­fronting your own is­sues. It also shows the im­por­tance of sim­ply be­ing a very good friend. We could all learn a lit­tle some­thing from Doris.

ROAD­SIDE AT­TRAC­TIONS

Doris (Sally Field) has a crush on the younger John (Max Green­field) in the film “Hello, My Name is Doris.”

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