Sally Field strikes back in new coming-of-age movie
By NICOLE WALLACK
“Hello, My Name Is Doris” is something of a coming-of-age story for someone who technically should have already come of age. The indie film stars Oscar-winner Sally Field as Doris Miller, a woman in her 60s who has never truly lived, until she meets and falls for John Fremont (played by “New Girl” actor Max Greenfield), a man half her age.
Doris lived a rather singular existence, caring for her elderly mother on Staten Island, while taking the ferry into Manhattan each day to be a low-level data-entry employee. Doris’s life was centered on caring for her ailing mother, while hoarding discarded household items found on the street to populate the home that she and her mother shared (the claustrophobic house mimicked the trapped feeling of her life). When the death of her mother coincides with the arrival of John as her company’s new art director, Doris begins her real arrival into the world.
When Doris mistakes John’s kindness as flirting, she begins to fall for him from afar, even employing her friend’s 13-year-old granddaughter Vivian (played by “Better Off Ted” actress Isabella Acres) to create a fake Facebook profile to figure out what John likes.
The dynamic between Vivian and Doris proves to be quite comedic as the teenager shows the woman, who is old enough to be her grandmother, how to navigate the Internet landscape enough to flirt with John in person. When Vivian points out an electro-pop band named Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winters (fronted by Jack Antonoff from the band fun.) that Fremont liked on Facebook, Doris begins to listen to the band to have a common interest with him. When John notices that Doris listened to the band, the two begin a real friendship.
Doris is quite eccentric, yet this makes her a favorite among the hipster community that John himself is a part of. The clothes that she has had since the 80s have come back into fashion among the hipsters, to the point at which Doris becomes something of an icon to them as the highest level of authentic.
When Doris attends a Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winters concert (which she knows John will be at) dressed in the retro neon clothes that she has owned for decades, she attracts the attention of the band’s frontman and is made into the cover art for their next album.
Doris and John have a series of misunderstandings about the nature of their relationship, which really makes the audience empathetic to the plight of Doris, who’s lost in the world. Yet it is through her experiences that she emerges a more full person.
Field is, as always, an absolute delight to see onscreen and really embraces the erratic, yet well-intentioned nature of Doris. Greenfield, playing something of a kinder and softer role than audiences accustomed to seeing him on “New Girl” may expect, has a wonderful dynamic with Field, one that keeps the more plodding and unbelievable parts of the plot still captivating.
The script is far from perfect, but it is engaging and heartwarming, made all the better by the electric chemistry of Greenfield and Field. There is an almost nervous energy surrounding the two when they are together stemming from a sometimes one-sided, seemingly forbidden lust. It is this energy and chemistry coupled with a well-meaning and comedic plot that makes this film a must see.