If we studied Kathy Bates's filmography, we would find well-known titles such as Titanic or Green tomato fritters. However, among the major productions to which the North American actress took part, a name stands out particularly: Misery. Talk about Misery it's about Bates' brilliant game as Annie Wilkes, the unforgettable villain who won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
What makes Annie Wilkes so special? Often, the bad guys intrigue us, disturb us and fascinate us at the same time. Generally, the bad guys awaken the interest of the public but also their rejection. But the charm of Annie Wilkes differs from the one we usually see in the bad guys. He is a character so real, so credible that he becomes terrifying. Who could imagine that behind a retired nurse who had been head of the maternity unit could hide such an odious person?
Annie Wilkes is a character with a very complex personality, aggressive, obsessive and bipolar although the image she projects to the world is far removed from this reality. The film Misery (1990) directed by Rob Reiner is an adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. In the novel, we further deepen the past of the character and give information omitted in the film version.
However, Kathy Bates' work is so sublime that she manages to be the perfect incarnation of this wicked. It awakens the curiosity of the public and keeps us in constant agony as if we personally experienced the torture it imposes on the writer Paul Sheldon. Bates' performance was acclaimed by the public and critics alike. It is considered one of the best female interpretations of all time.Bates is in addition to that the first woman to have won the Oscar for the best actress with a movie in suspense.
If you have not seen the movie Misery or that you have not read King's book, we do not advise you to continue reading. Indeed, we will be dealing in depth with the disturbed character of Annie Wilkes.
In the middle of a heavy snowfall, Paul Sheldon (well-known author of the novels of Misery) is victim of an accident and is saved by Annie Wilkes who self-proclaims as her biggest fan. In an inhospitable place, with only two characters, we enter an authentic horror story, asphyxiating and terrifying: it's Misery.
Annie Wilkes, a portrait of evil
Wilkes is a middle-aged woman, corpulent, quite sober. Its physical appearance is the simplest, without extravagant jewelry or luxury goods. We could easily categorize it as conservative just by looking at it. Indeed, she does not wear makeup, her hairstyle is simple and the only element that stands out in her outfit is a small gold cross she wears around her neck. This cross, as common as it is traditional, is an element we have seen an infinite number of times and which can give us information about Wilkes' personality.
However, this small element that we associate with Catholicism and consequently with the values of religion is an important contrast with Annie's true personality. On the other hand, the small farm in which she lives reminds us of a person who is simple and quiet although somewhat old-fashioned because it is decorated with ridiculous and old elements (such as the collection of porcelain figurines). This decoration seems at the same time very calculated. Indeed, Wilkes is able to perceive the smallest change which leaves his obsessive personality.
At first, Paul Sheldon thinks he's in good hands. After an accident and immobilized, he wakes up in the house of a retired nurse who seems to be a fan of her job. She promises to take care of him and help him recover. She tells him that she has notified her family and the hospital and that when the roads are open, she will accompany him to the nearest hospital.
But there is nothing further from reality. Gradually, Wilkes shows signs of bipolarity. She goes from kindness to excessive goodness to fits of hysteria, rage and aggression. It's as if Wilkes could not contain himself by discovering that Paul Sheldon has decided to murder Misery Chastain in the latest novel. At this moment, we discover that this aggressive and obsessive personality seems to have always existed at Wilkes. Indeed, she remembers an episode of her childhood in which she became very angry at the cinema because of the inconsistency she identified in one of his favorite characters.
The lonely Wilkes seems to present an infantile side that likes to dream with fictional characters; she is a fangirl of her time. She discovered the novels of Misery when she was going through a bad time. They helped him to escape. Annie Wilkes dreamed with these stories to the point of becoming obsessed. She even ends up sequestering the author of these.
Finding that the character would die in the last volume, his personality became as cold as the place around him. The small farm turned into an authentic hell for the writer Paul Sheldon. Cruelty worthy of the greatest villains ever seen in the cinema then appeared.
The exposure of popularity
Unfortunately, the popularity can be very dangerous. Being a public figure makes our intimacy a cause for debate and discussion susceptible of criticism. A single mistake, a bad comment, a bad answer or just a reaction can turn our lives into hell. Moreover, there are people developing obsessions that can be very dangerous.
Annie Wilkes loves Paul Sheldon. She is in love with him, but not with his real person, except with the idealized image she has of them. This obsessive love, associated with various mental disorders of which the character obviously suffers, pushes him to sequester Paul Sheldon and to torture him. How can one loving someone else be able to hurt him so much? In reality, it is not true love, it is an idealized love that becomes an obsession.
The case of Annie Wilkes is both terrifying and real. This is not the first time a person has developed such an obsession with his idol. This may, for example, remind us of the assassination of John Lennon by his fan Mark David Chapman. One can also wonder about the freedom of the artist. Is he really free to choose what he writes? The answer is no. At the beginning of this story, we discover the importance of his literary agent, the advice given to him and how to guide Sheldon to a more commercial reading.
The author is exhausted by Misery, he wants to give life to a new adventure, to experiment other genres … However, it is a fact that will disturb the editorial world because of the weakening of the profitability and at the same time the lack of fidelity towards his work. Publishers (as in the world of cinema) will always seek the most profitable option, one that will please the general public and this, regardless of the quality of it and the original idea of the author.
So, Misery shows us the other side of author life: the loss of creative freedom. Wilkes becomes Sheldon's "counselor" and forces her to write whatever she wants. In addition, we discover little by little the fact that Wilkes is associated with various murders and therefore that his cruelty has accompanied him throughout his life. It is a character who is frightened by its realism, by its obscure past of nurse murderer and by its deep obsession pushing it towards madness.
" I am your biggest fan ".