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Misery Review

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Bed-ridden author James Caan is tortured by cock-a-doody number one fan (and Oscar winner) Kathy Bates, in a taut and often blackly comic watershed moment for Stephen King adaptations (and director Rob Reiner, before his descent into rom-com hell).

★★★★

It is clearly Rob Reiner's mission in life to prove that he can handle any kind of movie with equal aplomb - so far we've had comedy (This Is Spinal Tap), fantasy (The Princess Bride) and a lurve story (When Harry Met Sally). And now, we have a thriller.

Paul Sheldon (Caan) is a best-selling novelist, fed up with his massively popular pot-boilers and their heroine Misery Chastain, and eager to create some Art. On his way to his publishers from his mountain hideaway, manuscript on board, he crashes, and is rescued by Annie Wilkes (the deservedly Oscar-winning Bates), the novelist's "number one fan", and a nurse to boot.

All seems well until Annie suddenly clicks that Misery is a goner, and she ever-so-slowly loses the few marbles God gave her, victimising Sheldon mentally and physically for killing her beloved heroine, and forcing him to bring her back to life by plonking him in front of a typewriter and demanding that he write a Lazarus-style instalment to the series.

Veteran screenwriter William Goldman expertly creates a vivid sense of reality from the situation - a bit of a first, this, for a Stephen King adaptation - and the two leads complement each other brilliantly, with Caan back on form, and Bates creating in Annie Wilkes one of the screen's more memorable fruit-cakes.

There are a few holes in the plot, mainly towards the end, but from start to harrowing finish, it is blissfully apparent that Rob Reiner can indeed turn his hand to virtually anything. Roll on the Buzby Berkeley extravaganza.