The Bliss Blog


I like Sally Field….I really, really like her. She was a staple in my childhood when I grew up watching Gidget and The Flying Nun. Today, worlds apart from the beach setting of the first show and the Puerto Rican convent in which Sister Bertille lived, in the second program, Field takes on the role of Doris Miller in the new movie entitled, Hello My Name is Doris. A versatile actress, Field dons a mish mosh mashup of thrift store color combo-ed clothes, hair extensions and floppily tied scarves as she steps into the character. Doris is a late blooming 60- something woman who sacrificed marriage, a family and more rewarding career to take care of her mother. At the outset of the movie, her mother has just died and she is now rattling around their packed to the gills hoarders’ house. It isn’t until later in the movie when she reluctantly engages the services of a therapist who specializes in that addiction that the viewer gets an idea of what makes Doris tick. Although this character blessedly did not suffer the same type of trauma as the one Field played in the disturbing movie Sybil, it is clear that she is troubled by a painful past.

Each weekday, Doris boards the Staten Island Ferry and heads to her job as an accountant at a creative agency where she is surrounded by considerably younger co-workers, including a new art director that she has the immediate hots for when she sees him getting off his bicycle in front of the building.  She finds all kinds of inventive ways to draw his attention after they find themselves in close proximity in the elevator.  Another plot twist is that along with her friends Roz and Val, she attends a self help seminar taught by a spiritual guru type who re-frames Doris’ belief that what she wants, which is a chance with her crush, as impossible into ‘I’m Possible’. Doris chants that line in her head and out loud as fuel for engaging with her fantasy man. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is the ‘Ally McBeal meets Walter Mitty’ active inner world that Doris possesses. She imagines juicy love scenes with the character of John that are only temporarily satisfying.

Because she is rather awkward and emotionally stunted, she seeks the guidance of her BFF’s 13 year old grand-daughter, perhaps because she actually feels like an adolescent when it comes to matters of the heart. She sets up a fake Facebook profile so she can take a look at his interests. One is a an electronica group named Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winters  whose music she finds oddly compelling. In one scene in a Williamsburg nightclub, where she conspires to run into John, she is garbed in a neon hued outfit and along with that and her enthusiastic break loose dancing, it draws the attention of Baby Goya himself. She and John are invited backstage where she is asked to be the cover model for their new CD. Such an adventure for this sheltered woman who longs for color and a release from the box of boredom in which she found herself trapped.

As their relationship evolves, it takes some surprising twists and turns, as well as some that are ‘I could have told you this would happen’ predictable. Her desire to do more than merely exist, has her taking emotional risks, living life on her terms and discovering who Doris really is.  As the film begins on the elevator, it also ends there….or does it?