Misery

1990

Misery (1990)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.

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Adapted from a Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner's Misery cast James Caan as a writer at a career crossroads. The film opens with Paul Sheldon (Caan) completing work on his latest novel, a break from his popular series of novels featuring the character Misery Chastain. He gets into a severe car accident and is saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a reclusive woman who nurses him back to health. Annie is a huge fan of the Misery novels, and she finishes reading the new one while Paul is convalescing. She becomes enraged when she discovers that Paul has killed off Misery. Annie injures Paul's foot severely so that he is unable to leave her house, and forces him to write a new Misery novel. A local sheriff (Richard Farnsworth) and Paul's agent (Lauren Bacall) both attempt to track down what happened to the missing author. Misery shot the relatively unknown Kathy Bates to stardom, winning her one of the few Best Actress Oscars ever bestowed for portraying an evil character.

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Critic Reviews for Misery

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (10)

Bates turns Wilkes into the nastiest nurse to reach the screen since Louise Fletcher tormented Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Aug 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Like any good work of popular culture, Rob Reiner's film of Stephen King's best-selling book Misery functions on more than one level.

Aug 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Popular moviemaking -- elegantly economical, artlessly artful -- doesn't get much better than this.

Oct 14, 2008 | Full Review…

Bates has a field day with her role, creating a quirky, memorable object of hate.

Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

A skillfully pared-down (if psychologically thin) horror thriller.

Sep 25, 2007 | Full Review…

Reiner captures just the right level of physical tension, but for the most part wisely emphasises the mental duels. Terrific.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Misery

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Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

When it comes to adapting a Stephen King horror story, some films tend to miss the mark, and others deliver a tense, terrifying and ultimately bone chilling unforgettable experience. This is the case with the 1990 King adaptation of Misery. The film follows closely the story of the novel, and it's one of those rare screen adaptations that is well adapted from the novel. James Caan is excellent as Paul Sheldon, the imprisoned author held captive by Annie Wilkes played by Kathy Bates. Both are superb in their respective roles, and Kathy Bates is one of the most disturbing and memorable screen villains in horror history, and her performance is one of the standouts of the film. The film is a fine blend of psychological horror and psycho horror. This picture still delivers after all these years and is hard to match in terms of telling a truly chilling story. If you want one of the better Stephen King adaptation's, then give this film a shot. With a great cast, great directing and an engaging plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, Misery remains of the defining genre films. This film has some truly intense scenes that are not for the faint of heart, and you simply can't turn away from Kathy Bates's performance that earned her a well deserved Oscar win. Like I stated earlier, King adaptations can sometimes be a little sketchy in terms of interesting material and effective plot, but Misery is a strong movie that is a must see for Stephen King fans looking for a well adapted film.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Wow, didn't know Kathy Bates had been acting this long....this and Dolores Claiborne are the best films I've seen her in...she's spectacular as the villain! James Caan is good also. Very suspenseful and full of thrills as you wonder if the famous author is ever going to escape. I'm a huge fan of Stephen King movies, and this shot to near the top of the my best-of list the first time I saw it!

Jason Owens
Jason Owens

Super Reviewer

½

Annie Wilkes: Now the time has come. I put two bullets in my gun. One for me, and one for you. Oh darling, it will be so beautiful.  "Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now he's writing to stay alive." Every time I watch Misery, I like it more and more. There's just so much talent involved here. First off, there's the source material from Stephen King. Misery is one of his finest stories. Then there's screenwriter William Goldman who does a good job of writing the story for the screen. Barry Sonnenfeld as cinematographer and of course Rob Reiner. Reiner knows how to make great adaptions of King's books; Stand By Me and Misery speak for themselves. And you can't forget about two stunning performances given by James Caan and Kathy Bates(who took home an Oscar for her psycho performance). There's just too much greatness for Misery to not be good. As in many of King's stories, the protagonist is a writer. This time he is actually a successful one to boot. He has a long running franchise of Misery books, and he's just finished his last one. He is deciding to move on from Misery and decides to kill her off. While driving home from his regular writing spot in Colorado; he gets into a blizzard and crashes. "Luckily" for him, a nice woman, who just happens to be his number one fan, pulls him from the wreckage and takes him home. At first she seems like the nicest woman in the world, but she has an angry side and quite a past as well. The movie works well in many genres. At times it is just a drama, then it's a thriller and it even has moments of pure horror. There are scenes of high tension. My favorite scene is where Annie leaves the house and Paul wheels himself around the house. As he explores, we see Annie getting closer and closer to home. What will happen? Well that is just part of that high tension. Misery is regarded as one of the best King adaptions ever, and that claim is totally justified. Through the picture perfect pacing and the magnificent performances, we are shown the true brilliance of King's story just about as well as it could have been done. Kathy Bates plays a mood swinging psychopath to perfection. Her fits of rage are simply astounding. Caan does a good job in performance, where for the most part, he is either laying on his back or sitting in a wheel chair at a typewriter.  While there's other King films I like more, this is still an all-time classic. Rich in character and in plot, it works like magic; putting in the viewer in the same helpless state that Paul is in. Misery is a must see.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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