Photo Credit: CineMuseFilms
A Valentine’s Day movie recommendation to dance beyond the rest
Julliana (Yanni) Santos, Managing Editor
Hello, My Name is Doris, starring Sally Field, tells a few love stories we don’t often get to witness. It’s a film about healing, learning to love yourself, deep and lifelong friendships, overcoming isolation, and moving through grief. It’s also about a will-they-won’t-they workplace romance between Doris and her much younger, recently-hired co-worker, John (played by Max Greenfield). What’s brilliant about this film is how all parts of it (from the soundtrack, to the direction, to the very writing behind everything) treat Doris with respect, nuance, and above all, a certain love that can’t be pushed aside.
Doris is in her early 60s. Her office job insists on using “ergonomic” bouncy balls instead of chairs. Her mother, who she has lived with and been taking care of, passed away recently. Her house is packed with items she does not need, but cannot bear to part with. Her therapist tells her she needs to throw things away. She has a cat calendar on her cubicle wall. The cat tells her to hang in there. Such goes Doris’ story. The movie peppers her narrative with these rich and informative details. What might be mundane statements are resounding elements of the story, as everything points back to Doris’ perspective. That’s what I mean by the film treating Doris with “love.” The film is in love with Doris, adorning all things that matter most to her with the same love she bestows on each aspect of her life. Beyond these details, there’s Doris’ love story. I don’t wish to spoil much (since I highly encourage anyone reading this to watch this film), but I can assure you that this movie is a rom-com at its heart. It chooses to blend romance and comedy in a way that creates space for Doris to explore her individuality and growth, even in the near-foreign society of the fast-paced “hipster” nightlife of her younger coworkers.
What might detract from the story of the movie is the sometimes jarring, often dated references to a “younger” culture which give away the fact that the film was written in 2015. One piece of dialogue, to paraphrase, goes along the lines of “you’re an absolute baller, Doris.” Still, I urge you not to be discouraged by this. If you approach this film with the same care it uses in telling its story, you’ll be rewarded with Doris’ dry wit, impeccable style, and refusal to be anything other than herself.
This February, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I cannot think of a better film to recommend. Find strength with Doris in the support of her dear and lifelong friend, Roz. Cry with her in the complications of her grief and her family structure. Laugh with her in the freedom she finds in being purposefully alive and unabashedly delighted in living. Above all, enjoy the ride – fall in love with Doris along the way. To borrow from the final song of the film, falling in love is “sweetness,” in all its brilliant flavours.