The title character of “Hello, My Name is Doris” is an unmarried woman of a certain age left alone when her elderly mother dies. It sounds depressing but a wonderful performance from Sally Field brings both comedy and heartache to the film.
Doris lives in Staten Island in the home she grew up in and shared with her mother until she passed away. A job as an accountant in “the city” keeps her busy, but she is lonely, surrounded by mounds of stuff she and her mother hoarded over the years, loved only by her pet cat and best friend Roz (Tyne Daly).
When Doris meets John Fremont (Max Greenfield), a new hire at her company, she is immediately smitten despite the several decades difference in their ages. She moons over him, awkward and afraid, but with the words of a self help guru echoing in her ears—“Don’t ask Why me, ask Why not me?”—she courts him, i.e. stalks him on the internet. When she goes to a concert by one of his favourite artists they hit it off… but only as friends. The quirky Doris is a hit with John’s hipster pals but it turns out John has a girlfriend (Beth Behrs), dive bombing Doris’s hope of getting closer to her work crush.
“Hello, My Name is Doris” is a slight movie, but much funnier than you might imagine given the subject matter. It’s a showcase for Sally Field’s loosest performance in years. Whether she is frozen, lost in the reverie, or dancing to electropop for the first time, she delivers a fine comedic performance. Simmering under the comedy, however, is subtly rendered heartbreak. She’s a woman who feels life passed her by while taking care of her mother and a cloud of sadness and disappointment hangs over her.
Will Doris’s life plan set her on a path to disappointment and rejection or will this be an update of “Harold and Maude”? No spoilers here but suffice to say what “Hello, My Name is Doris” lacks in twists and turns it makes up for with inventive, likeable performances, particularly from Field and co-star Daly.
Early on in the film John says, “I like you Doris.” I predict by the end of the film you will too.