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Sally Field Makes an Adorable 'Doris'

She cleans up as a cat lady who claws her way to a new life

(Video) Hello, My Name Is Doris Movie Trailer: A self-help seminar inspires a 60-something woman (Sally Field) to romantically pursue her younger co-worker.

Rating: R

Run time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Stars: Sally Field, Max Greenfield

Director: Michael Showalter

En español | It's been so long since Sally Field had a movie all to herself that I'd forgotten how thoroughly she commands the screen, how masterfully she examines the elements of a character, holding each facet up to a revealing — often unforgiving — light.

In Hello, My Name Is Doris, Field immerses herself in the role of a woman who has dedicated her life to caring for her mother, only to wake one morning to the horrified realization that she's become "a crazy cat lady."

How Doris emerges from that state — by sheer force of will — gives this comedy-drama considerable charm and surprising power. But don't expect Doris to morph into a mainstream 60-something. Having never fit any cultural mold, she reimagines herself in ways the old Doris would have found unthinkable.

Field delivers an artfully measured performance as Doris, first lulling us into believing she'll settle into a goofy stereotype, then stirring up subtle qualities to create a character who is alternately funny and tragic, chipper and anguished.

When we first meet Doris, she's at her mother's funeral. Even before the coffin lid is closed, her brother (News Radio's Stephen Root) and his wife (The GoldbergsWendi McLendon-Covey) are urging her to sell the Staten Island house she and her mom shared for decades. They've even hired a shrink-cum-life coach (Grey's Anatomy alum Elizabeth Reaser) to help Doris come to terms with moving on — and deal with the borderline hoarding tendencies she's developed in her years with Mom.

Doris digs her heels in, but the winds of change have already begun to swirl about her life, especially since she met a new coworker: John (New Girl's Max Greenfield), a young fellow from Malibu who's got a great personality and a killer smile. This unattainable hunk is 30 years her junior, and of course Doris is smitten.

Hello, My Name Is Doris

Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Sally Field stars in 'Hello, My Name is Doris.'

Doris' unlikely pursuit of John — were the genders reversed, we'd call it stalking — pushes her into unfamiliar terrain. Learning he's into electronica music, she buys a ticket to a concert she knows he'll attend, bumps into him and is soon mixing easily with his hipster Brooklyn pals. The very attributes that made Doris stand out in her own generation — her dorky clothes, her clumsy social skills, her complete lack of conversational filters — help her fit in, and sensationally so, with the younger set. Soon she's hanging out at house parties, attending a millennial "Friendsgiving," even posing for the cover of a music CD.

Doris plays along with it all, largely so she can stay close to the man of her dreams — but at the expense of her long-term friends (Tyne Daly and Caroline Aaron), who worry she's making a fool of herself. Indeed, director Michael Showalter (Grace and Frankie) seems unable to decide whether the young'uns view Doris as a soul mate or a mascot. John's affection for Doris is genuine, but will he ever like her that way?

The answer to that question is less important than the destination of this singular woman's life journey. In losing herself to infatuation, Doris finds the woman she never knew she was.

Bill Newcott is a writer, editor and movie critic for AARP Media.