Friday, March 25, 2016

Hello, My Name is Doris

Hello, My Name is Doris
seen @ Cinemart Fiveplex, Forest Hills, Queens NY

I'd go out with an older woman. Why not? It's not like I'm a spring chicken anymore anyway, so it probably wouldn't be a Dustin Hoffman-Anne Bancroft situation. (Fun fact: they were only six years apart in age when they made The Graduate. Still are, I would imagine.) There have been older women I've been attracted to in my life, although my luck with them has been no better than with chicks my own age or younger.

There are, of course, those ladies known oh-so-affectionately as "cougars." I've yet to meet one. Only half-convinced they even exist - but then, I'm pretty sure I run in the wrong social circles for that sort of thing. None of Vija's female friends fit the criteria, nor does Vija herself - in fact, she'd get a pretty big laugh at being mistaken for one.

Age may be nothing but a number, but what they don't tell you is that it's only true past a certain point in life. After, let's say for argument's sake, forty, you start becoming less picky with regard to age if you're not already hooked up with someone. Yes, there's the stereotype of older dudes with younger women, but the cynic in me thinks that's strictly a money/power thing.

Still, in the end, we fall for who we fall for, age differences or no, and such is the dilemma at the heart of the movie Hello, My Name is Doris. Doris' mom just died, and Doris spent a good chunk of her life taking care of her. Now she's (presumably) in her sixties and kind of at loose ends when she meets new thirty-something co-worker John, and it takes one random act of kindness on his part for her to want him. Problem is, she's not exactly the type that stands out in a crowd, if you know what I mean.

I recently read a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It discusses the skills introverts possess, but that are not always visible in a world that expects one to be more expressive. Now, I have a friend whom I've known and loved for many years, but there have been certain aspects to her behavior that I've never completely understood and at times, have found quite frustrating. 

She recently recommended that I read this book to find out why she is the way she is, and to a degree, it helped. I've learned to deal with it if she doesn't write back to me for weeks at a time. I've learned to not take it personally if she doesn't wanna hang out, at least not right away. Basically, I've learned to be more patient with her, which isn't always easy, but I've always believed she was worth the effort, and still do.

Doris, at times, is kind of a difficult person with whom to sympathize. In the movie, there's a self-help guru who gives Doris the courage to talk to John, and for awhile, it works. She learns to adapt to his hipster world and she's able to come out of her shell. But then the other shoe drops, and she doesn't adapt quite as well, to say the least. And then there's all the hoarding.

The movie doesn't quite seem to hold up at times from all the quirk, but what keeps it together is a great performance from Sally Field. Yes, we still really like her after all these years, and roles like this are the reason why. Still looking terrific in real life at 69 (!!), her dowdy looks and peculiar style of dress in Doris oversell the character, perhaps, but putting someone like Doris - not just an introvert, but an old introvert - at the center of a romantic comedy is a pretty brave act in and of itself.

The older women I know - and I'm thinking mainly of Vija and her female friends, who are my friends too - may not be introverts in the strictest sense (or maybe they are; I'm not sure), but many of them have a quiet, understated strength all their own that may not make them stand out in a crowd, but make you want to know them better. Doris, at the movie's start, doesn't have that. I wouldn't say for sure she has it by the end, either, but she's on her way to having it, I think.

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