I love Sally Field. I mean how could you not? She makes faces, she is always over-the-top, her hands flailing. She seems to be always the same things in each of her performances, but you always believe her. There is always an authenticity to her performance, and you respond to the character. Here in “Hello My Name Is Doris,” she is sympathetic even if you see the character doing the wrong things. Somehow, when Doris does the most cringe-worthy things, Fields makes everything even more cringe-worthy, and you still respond positively. Her performance is the heart of soul of this movie, and she injects it with adorable rawness, so of course you will love this movie.
Fields plays Doris, who at the start of the film, finds herself alone after her mother dies, after taking care of her for years, after making sacrifices in her life just to take care of her. And she becomes lost in purpose, until she meets John (Max Greenfeld) who somehow gives her purpose, gives her a reason to look forward to life. And why wouldn’t she? Greenfeld plays John with homey charm that it’s not even how he looks (he is a hunky dream) but who he is that we fall in love with. And then we know how this will all end. Doris is emotionally stunted that any attention given her will magnify in something not tinge with reality (Director Michael Showalter gives us dream sequences to hammer this fact) and then there is heartbreak, heartbreak that even we know is coming will leave us whimpering with sadness. We will see ourselves in these characters: in Doris, in John, even via Doris’ friends – we have seen this also in other people. And you will laugh and cry with Doris, and Field knows just exactly how to play her – never going too much even though is too too much, and pulling back just at the point where you will truly dislike her. It’s a performance I have only come to expect with her, and I am just glad it exists in this world.