Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Apr 27th, 2016

FILM: Hello My Name is Doris

Hello My Name is DorisA spirited-if-flawed inversion on a classic “coming-of-age” film, Michael Showalter’s Hello, My Name is Doris, starring Sally Field is now in theaters following an initial showing at the SXSW Film Festival in 2015.

The age in question here is “a certain age.” In the opening scene, titular character Doris (played adeptly by Field) is confronted by her brother and sister-in-law after the death of their mother, with whom the late-60s Doris has been living with in a cluttered Staten Island existence her entire life.

At the office, Doris is an unchanged relic of an earlier time, an accountant in a pool of equally narrow-minded “creatives.” The film begs, “shouldn’t she retire?” Not going to happen.

Through a series of accidental and stealthily-planned encounters, Doris attracts the platonic amusement of her significantly younger and dashing co-worker John Fremont (played by Max Greenfield). While the main actors offer sincere performances, buoyed by wry appearances from supporting cast, like Tyne Daly as Doris’ stubborn-but-concerned friend Roz, the film itself, adapted from a shorter work by an NYU student, struggles flailingly to hoist itself above the simple but pervasive tropes it aims to dismiss.

We are presented with a myopic view on the broadness of sexual experience (other filmmakers, such as Bruce LaBruce, have delved into gerontiphilia). The world of hipsters is seen from a generational lens, with a facile and dismissive swipe at niche interests (see the queer knitting group Doris joins, for instance).

While Hello, My Name is Doris never subverts nor steadfastly questions the gendered and agist biases the film questions (surely if Doris were a man there would be no plot hook), the film succeeds in registering a kind of yearning that never extinguishes, in spite of age.

By the end of the film, Doris has encountered a new world of people, experiences, and possibilities, but despite the newfound optimism, remains essentially unchanged.

Hello, My Name is Doris, starring Sally Field is now in theaters nationwide.

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FILM: Hello My Name is Doris