Favors Film Analysis

Welcome to Favors Film Analysis!

The Favors Film Analysis Project applies the concept of setback to select films.

The exploration and application of setback as a concept is based in part on the ideas expressed within the book titled Overcoming Setback: Five Keys for Entering & Exiting Correction, which is available on Amazon.com. Click the “Books” tab to access the main and companion titles. In addition, click the “Overcoming Setback Curriculum” tab for an outline of the stages of setback.

The video lectures below represent a sample film analysis of Stephen King’s Misery. The following videos may be out of order based on the film. The list of videos is not comprehensive.

Visit the Favors Film Analysis YouTube channel to access further video lectures.

You may also visit Regina Y. Favors channel to access the film analysis channel. Below are the videos for Misery and they provide insight into how setback may be applied to select films. The goal is to generate discussion about setback and how life might imitate art, or art might imitate life concerning the concept.

The current website for Favors Film Analysis is under development. The films Pressed (2011), Blood Out (2011), Interview with a Hitman (2012), and Misery (1990) are complete. Development of Your Move (2017) and Vertigo (1958) are in progress.

The Favors Film Analysis website and print guides fall under the Favors Film School and Favors Film Analysis Curriculum and includes film scripts, independent study courses, and workshops. See the website for more information. All Favors branded products are in development as volume increases and capacity changes.

About Favors Film School

Favors Film School is an online learning center that offers practical courses in film analysis, film critiques, and film production. The school focuses on applied psychology concepts in interpreting and evaluating scriptwriting, filmmaking, and production.

Favors Film School is in development. The Favors Film Analysis website serves as a temporary learning medium.


The goal of Favors Film School is to prepare students for applying the theme of setback to the development of film analysis for select films and write scripts with this theme as central to understanding the behavior of characters, the creation of dialogue, and the development of the film narrative.


The mission of Favors Film School is to provide a space for teaching applied psychology to scriptwriting, filmmaking, and directing and centering efforts on exploring the theme of setback.

Favors Film Guides

Favors Film School produces Favors Film Guides that focus on the application of psychology and the theme of setback for select commercial films. Favors Film Guides are the print version of the online medium. The guides are used for both academic and commercial purposes.

Favors Film Guides Online

Favors Film Guides writes, develops, and promotes film analyses of select films. The guides are published on the www.favorsfilmanalysis.com website. Content development for the site is undergoing a two-year process, from 2022 to 2024.

Video Lectures

The following video lectures fall under the Favors Film Guides Online business category and are housed on the Favors Film Analysis YouTube channel and Favors Film Analysis website. The print version of the online lecture will be available at a future date.

Misery (1990)

The theme of setback is explored in Misery (1990), a film about the unexpected toxic relationship Paul Sheldon has with his captor, Annie Wilkes, who is his #1 fan. Annie’s attitude towards the central character in the eight-part Misery novel series is challenged by Paul’s indifference, suggesting that the only way to end one’s personal and professional misery is by killing off the central character.

Both Annie and Paul abandon their own mastery orientations to fulfill their personal needs, which requires both to shift their thinking for the greater good of bringing Misery back to life. Although setback is not a traditional theme, it is useful for understanding and interpreting films that push a cautionary tale.

This is a film analysis and not a film critique to create and further a teaching/academic environment.

Plot Summary

Misery (1990) explores the parallel narratives of both characters Annie Wilkes and Paul Sheldon. Wilkes is an obsessive fan who holds Sheldon captive, forcing him to rewrite a novel part of a series. On the other hand, Sheldon, who desires to get out of the novel-writing business, is beginning his new journey in writing serious stories, hoping the new genre will launch his career post-Misery.

Their worlds collide when Sheldon’s car goes off the road during a blizzard. Wilkes rescues him and takes him to her home, and she subsequently traps him into the room because she realizes that he is ending her misery as well as his own.

Forced to burn the new manuscript and reignite the old series, Sheldon complies, extends the series, learns about Annie, and tries different strategies of escape, which makes Annie suspicious. After she discovers Sheldon’s attempts, Annie is forced to adopt an extreme option to keep Sheldon from leaving.

The experiences of both characters reveal much about their inclinations to adopt different goal orientations to complete their tasks. By the end of Misery, it is Sheldon who achieves his goal, leaving a legacy for reinvention and overcoming personal and professional setback.

Introduction to Film Analysis

This audio lecture introduces the film analysis of Misery (1990), focusing on the learning objectives, plot summary, and the suggestion of two narrative plots.

The Setup

This audio lecture explores the setup of the film, from Paul Sheldon’s time in the cabin to him finishing the new book without adding a title. The setup comes right before Paul leaves the cabin and drives on the snowy road.

“I Still Got It.” Lead Up the Car Crash

This audio lecture explores the lead up to the main character’s car crash. Despite the inherent dangers of driving in the snow, Paul Sheldon decides to leave his cabin in a rush to get back to his life after writing a new but untitled book.

Annie Pulls Paul out of Setback

This audio lecture introduces Paul’s setback in crashing the car and further introduces Annie as the person who rescues him from the snow. Annie pulls Paul out of a physical, obvious setback, but this analysis suggests that Annie also pulls Paul out of a potential career setback if the new untitled book had been published and it did not gain the same notoriety as the Misery series.

Annie Returns to Misery

This audio lecture explores Annie’s return to misery after reading Paul’s untitled work. Annie displayed her fear of Paul’s new work by discounting it and discontinuing reading the book, implicitly. Annie’s misery is her happiness and reading the new book, “Misery’s Child,” sustains her happiness.

Annie’s Skill

This audio lecture explores Annie’s skill in shaving Paul Sheldon and tending to him as a patient and guest in her home. The writer and director spend significant time in writing and filming these scenes, which are significant for understanding Annie’s initial patience with Paul until that patience is challenged and that patience leads to tolerance.

Annie’s Knowledge Base

This audio lecture explores Annie’s knowledge base about helping patients to physical recovery. Annie’s demonstration of skill is later challenged when she stops tending to Paul’s physical pain to push her agenda of having Paul write “Misery’s Return.”

“I Don’t Think There’s a Doctor Who Could Have Done Any Better.”

This audio lecture explores Annie’s belief that she may be superior to any doctor in helping Paul Sheldon. Even though Annie has nursing training, she is still not a doctor, which further suggests that she believes she is more suited to help and bring Paul out of his setback.

“Who Am I to Make a Criticism?”

This audio lecture explores Annie’s response to Paul Sheldon’s untitled book. She believes that his new book has no nobility and that the characterization and the context represented in the book is not realistic. Paul Sheldon counters Annie’s argument with his personal experiences, which she further discounts.

Buster’s Setback

This audio lecture briefly explores Buster’s setback, suggesting that Buster might have prevented Paul Sheldon from being missing if he had engaged him regularly as a visitor to the town. In other words, knowing the patterns of Paul Sheldon would have equipped Buster would the knowledge and the tool of “checking in.”

“You Need Some Help.”

This audio lecture explores Buster’s misguided decision to find Paul Sheldon on his own without help. It is his wife, Virginia, who challenges his notion to work alone by asking the question, “You need some help?”

Paul’s Misunderstanding of Business and Economics

This audio lecture explores the main character’s misunderstanding of the business of publishing. Paul Sheldon seems to be naïve about making a transition from writing the eight-part novel series to writing more serious work that has not gained a consistent following.

“I Was a Writer Then.” Paul’s Regret of Misery

This audio lecture introduces the main character’s attitude towards the eight-part novel series that is successful and supported by many fans. He believes that going to the cabin to write a new novel will help him support a new goal to write more serious work.

Paul’s Hastiness to Leave Misery

This audio lecture explores Paul’s physical decision to leave the misery he is experiencing at Annie’s house. The lecture further suggests that Paul Sheldon has a fractured understanding as a parallel to his fractured body because he struggles to understand his reading audience and their needs. They are in misery and his books help them to walk out their miseries. Paul is hasty in trying to get out of the bed to escape his misery in the same way that he is hasty in trying to get out of the Misery-writing business.

Paul Feeling Piggy in His Profession

This audio lecture introduces Annie’s sow aptly named Misery. A parallel is made to Paul Sheldon’s feeling of insecurity within his profession and with his novel series.

Annie Calls Paul a Liar

This audio lecture explores Annie’s reference to Paul as a liar as well as her revelation that she has been lying to Paul Sheldon. She uses such language as “Misery can’t be dead” and “You murdered my misery” to make her case for calling Paul a liar. Annie’s behavior about Paul’s decision to kill off Misery Chastain reflects her fractured understanding.

Annie Calls Paul a Crybaby

This audio lecture explores Annie’s labeling of Paul as a crybaby when he is visibly and realistically in pain, the pain that she is aware of and detected while applying bandage. It may be ironic that Annie calls Paul a crybaby when she is emotionally expressive about Paul’s decision to kill misery. There is a possible parallel to the agent feeling the same about Paul’s decision to kill misery.

Annie Lies on God

This audio lecture explores Annie’s belief that she has been sent by God to show Paul the way. This suggests that she believes that Paul has gotten off the right path of writing the Misery books. In one way, Paul is off the path, literally, since he crashed his car. He is figuratively off the path in deciding to kill off Misery. Getting off the path affects his reputation with the readers and with the publisher.

Annie’s Lack of Talent

This audio lecture explores Annie’s belief that Paul’s untitled book is a work of filth, urging him to burn his book. What is most revealed through Annie’s attitude towards Paul’s book is her lack of talent and her lack of understanding that talent can transition. It is also clear that Paul doesn’t really see Annie for who she is. He is still in survival mode.

Paul Burns His Book

This audio lecture explores how Annie forces Paul to burn his book. However, it is further suggested that in Paul not titling the book, he fails to give it purpose enough to keep as a viable option. It is Annie who says that Paul’s untitled book represents filth, but underlying Annie’s motivation to force Paul to burn his book is her implicit desire to return to misery both literally and figuratively. Annie allows Paul to light the match. Annie serves as the agent of punishment for the film.

Annie’s Way of Solving Problems

This audio lecture explores how Annie solves a problem by extinguishing Paul’s dreams. Annie is the one who pours water on Paul’s untitled burning book to keep it from affecting the rest of the house, possibly burning down the house. She is forced to contain the fire and smoke in the same way that she is forced to contain or extinguish Paul’s dreams of writing more serious work. Annie’s way of solving problems also reveals her unwillingness to learn something new.

Paul Begins His Mask

This audio lecture explores the beginning of Paul’s mask. Annie has just forced him to burn his book, and she undoubtedly exhibits cognitive dissonance about her behavior. The pills Annie gives Paul after the book burning takes on a different mission. At first, they resolved his physical pain. Now they must resolve his emotional and psychological pain. However, Paul refuses to take the next dosage, which begins his mask.

Annie’s Pushing the Narrative

This audio lecture explores Annie’s desire to get Paul to extend the Misery series by writing a new book. Annie creates a mini-writing studio for Paul so that he has everything he needs to write the book. He doesn’t have to leave the house. Paul voices concern about the typing paper Annie buys, which then triggers her into slamming the box of paper onto Paul’s legs. This signifies Annie’s use of violence where there is contact. The analysis suggests that Annie represents false advertising because she is not the nurse, in heart, that she claims to be.

The “Key” as False Freedom

This audio lecture explores Paul’s discovery of a bobby pin left on the floor. He uses it as a key to exit the room and attempt an escape. When he realizes that the front door of the house is locked preventing him from getting out, he explores the house. He inadvertently makes a mistake for which Annie will use as a motivator to punish Paul using violence as a deterrent.

Annie’s Identity Issues

This audio lecture explores Annie’s identity issues with trying to balance being a nurse to Paul Sheldon and helping him to recovery and being a fan of Paul Sheldon and influencing his work. Annie cannot seem to understand that she is merely a reader of Paul Sheldon’s work, not an agent and certainly not his editor. Her face is pained while she drives in the car. But the viewing audience, through a fourth wall attempt, wants to shake her.

Paul Crawling to Comeback

This audio lecture explores Paul’s desire to get out of setback by crawling to comeback. It is a symbolic gesture because Paul’s legs have not been healed and Annie is still considered his captor. However, in venturing out of the room by using the bobby pin as a key, Paul is signaling that he will do whatever is necessary to get out, which further suggests that he will do whatever to make a comeback.

Paul Crawling Back to Setback

This audio lecture explores Paul’s sudden movements to return to his setback, so Annie does not discover he has left the room. Paul’s crawl to setback is necessary to maintain his actor’s face with Annie. He must allocate his efforts to deceiving Annie to maintain his life.

Paul Halt Between Setback and Comeback

This audio lecture explores Paul’s struggle to get back into his wheelchair. He tries to hoist himself into the chair to get back to the room, so Annie does not suspect that he has left the room. In critically thinking about the image Paul and the director conveys, Paul is symbolic of what we all look like when we are trying to get out of setback and attempt a comeback. We all struggle to pull ourselves up emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

Nursing as a Setback for Annie

This audio lecture explores Paul’s attempt to bring Annie back to nursing him to recovery by deceiving her into believing that he is in pain and in need of his pills. By this time in the film, Paul has ventured out of his room using a bobby pin as a key. Upon realizing that Annie has returned to the house when he hears her car drive up, he hurriedly crawls across the floor to get back to his room, which is symbolically crawling back to his setback. When Annie comes through the door, she finds Paul perspiring and breathing heavily to which he explains that he is in pain. The greater view is that Annie is not a true nurse in her heart, and this is evident in her not attending to Paul’s recovery.

The “Air Kiss” as a Chore

This audio lecture explores Paul’s attempt to maintain some sense of peace by responding to Annie’s advances. She blows him a kiss, and he returns the kiss by catching it. It is a conscious strategy Paul uses to keep Annie at bay. It is also a strategy that suggests something that must be done, i.e., like a chore. Paul cannot get out of doing the chore because it would make him vulnerable to Annie’s violence.

The Viewer is Cheated

This audio lecture explores Annie’s attempt to get Paul to develop a better draft of Misery’s Return. Annie challenges both Paul’s writing ability and motivation to write the work. Annie might serve as an editor, which might further suggest that she is operating outside of her mastery orientation. However, Annie knows Paul’s works. She knows the story lines, character development, historical contexts, scene descriptions, and overall plot development. Paul can’t fool Annie, and this is true as she “mentors” him to a better draft.

Paul’s Mimicry

This audio lecture explores Paul’s mimicry in front of Annie, who insists that he rewrites the draft of Misery’s Return. When Annie exhibits and expresses happiness, Paul fixes his face to match her face. This is similar to what we see when parents make faces at their babies to get them to respond. Paul is forced to compromise himself for the sake of his personal safety.

Annie’s Bluff

This audio lecture explores Annie’s depression, allegedly, and the response she desires to get from Paul when she says she has a gun and that she might put bullets in it. Paul exhibits a blank face, but that is likely due to his resoluteness to escape from captivity. He has made up his mind to leave, even though his legs are not fully healed. It is at this point in the movie that Annie might fully know Paul has left his room at least once and that this knowledge motivates her to find a way to keep him and not let him go, even if that means death.

Annie’s Power Play

This audio lecture explores both Annie and Paul at the dinner table. Paul asked Annie if she would have dinner with him under the guise of using his pill concoction to drug Annie. Unbeknownst to him, it is possible that Annie knows that Paul has left the room while she was away because the penguin figurine that Paul hit with his wheelchair and that almost fell on the floor has been turned back to its proper position, facing in the same direction as the other figurines. If this is true, Annie has put on her actor’s face to deceive Paul into believing that she is unaware of his activities. This withholding of information possibly reflects Annie’s power play.

Buster’s Homework

This audio lecture explores Buster’s desire to understand and resolve the problem of Paul’s missing status by reading his Misery novels. Buster is willing to purchase and read Paul’s works. Buster is willing to expand his knowledge base, which represents previous ways of managing problems. Buster is willing to learn new ways of understanding and providing solutions to problems.

Annie’s Textbook

This audio lecture explores Paul looking through Annie’s photo album, which is mixed with pictures and news clippings. The photo album functions similarly to a textbook in its structure and implicit argument that Annie essentially always comes out on top. The photo album is a window into Annie’s past, mind, and potential for violence.

Paul’s Punishment

This audio lecture explores Annie punishing Paul for leaving his room, which further suggests that she might be punishing Paul for not continuing to write Misery’s Return. In Paul’s desire to escape and leave the room and leave Annie, by default, this puts the rebirth of Misery Chastain on hold. Annie punishes Paul for the obvious reason of disobeying her rules, but she also punishes Paul for wanting to run away from writing Misery’s Return. In using a sledgehammer, she inflicts punishment, pain, and correction. Paul is forced to continue writing a series he hates.

Paul’s Lack of Strategy

This audio lecture explores Paul leaving his room and retrieving a butcher’s knife for protection against Annie, who in a previous scene held a gun and said that she might put bullets in it. As a way of ensuring his safety and life, Paul believes that he is capable enough to protect himself against Annie and thwart her advances. However, Paul is lacking a true strategy against Annie who holds greater power against his physical vulnerability.

Buster’s Haste

This audio lecture explores Buster’s hasty desire to solve Paul Sheldon’s missing status by following up on a hunch about a quote made in Sheldon’s book and matching it with a statement Annie Wilkes makes on the courthouse steps. Buster’s haste leads him to visit Annie’s house in which he searches the house and finds no Paul Sheldon.

However, when Paul Sheldon, who is down in the basement, makes a noise, Buster comes back in, hears Paul’s voice, opens the door to the basement, and subsequently succumbs to a bullet from Annie’s shotgun. Buster never fully recovers from his decision to act alone in solving Paul Sheldon’s disappearance.

Annie’s Double Personality

This audio lecture briefly explores Annie’s thinking and behavior towards Paul and how she punishes him for leaving the room but then patches him like she would a nurse. It is suggested that Annie has a double personality but not necessarily a split personality since there is no evidence from a counseling psychologist or psychiatrist to validate the assumption. The visual of Paul repaired from the previous punishment and her subsequent address to him as if he is a husband or mutual lover is enough validation to create the assumption that Annie has a double personality.

Annie’s Cognitive Disonnance

This audio lecture briefly explores Annie’s thinking about her activities and her motivation to keep Paul captive and encourage his extension of the Misery series. Annie exhibits cognitive dissonance in her dealings with Paul. She commits an act against him but cognitively disconnects from the deed as if the deed was conducted by some external force. She is the type of person who would say, “I’m a good person,” while committing a criminal deed.

Two Miseries Clashing

This audio lecture explores the film’s resolution: when Annie and Paul have their final battle. Paul decides to burn Misery’s Return and Annie fights to keep it alive by trying to put out the fire. She is unsuccessful and then decides to fight Paul, who finally fights her back. Paul is ready to leave his captivity but not without a fight. Their ideologies about misery, figuratively, essentially clash and Paul’s decision to end his misery wins the fight.

Accumulation of Paul Sheldon’s Setbacks

This audio lecture explores Paul Sheldon’s setbacks, which include missed opportunity to understand the needs of his reading audience, to title his own work, and to learn about Annie Wilkes.

Accumulation of Annie Wilkes’s Setbacks

This audio lecture explores Annie Wilkes’s, which include missed opportunity to overcome personal misery, to usher Paul Sheldon to full recovery, and to choose a career that best fits her personality and passion.

Accumulation of Buster’s Setbacks

This audio lecture explores Buster’s setbacks, which include missed opportunity to extend his learning process, to close out gaps in his professional knowledge base, and to utilize the full power of his office.

Applying the Seven Stages of Setback

This audio lecture introduces and applies the seven stages of setback to the film, beginning with missed opportunity and following up with the six remaining stages: punishment, pain, correction, recovery, restoration, and advance. The lecture applies the stages to Paul Sheldon, Annie Wilkes, and Buster.

Special Topic on Goal Orientation Theory

This audio lecture applies the concept of goal orientation to the film, focusing on two types: learning goal orientation and performance goal orientation. The discussion connects both orientation types to Carol Dweck’s distinction between fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Conclusion: What We Have Learned

This audio lecture concludes the film analysis and offers insight into what we can learn from Annie Wilkes, Paul Sheldon, Buster, and the influences of the writer and director.

Full Video Lecture: In Two Parts

The Theme of Setback in Misery (1990), Full, Part I

The Theme of Setback in Misery (1990), Full, Part II

Copyright (C) 2020-2023 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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