Reviewed byMichael DeZubiria (email@example.com)Vote: 9/10/10
It was so many years ago that I read Dolores Claiborne that I don'tremember how closely the movie follows the book, but I've found thatStephen King movies in general are pretty faithful to the originalmaterial, and I'm sure that this one is no exception. Released at atime when a drama, even a dramatic thriller, coming from Stephen Kingwould be known more for being a drama from the master of horror thananything else, Dolores Claiborne is still a surprisingly capable legalthriller with a remarkably intricate story.
Dolores Claiborne is an unskilled housewife living in Maine with herabusive husband and abused daughter, and things get progressively worseuntil she finds herself with an sexually abused daughter and a deadhusband on her hands. The indictment for the murder of her husbanddoesn't stand in court, and years later she is again faced with thecapital charge as the woman that she has been working for as a maid forso many years falls or is thrown down the stairs of her house to herdeath, and it's up to the town's Detective, played brilliantly byChristopher Plummer, to prove that it was not an accident. Oh no, notan accident at all. Detective Mackey (Plummer), let Dolores get awayonce and damned if that nonsense was going to happen again.
Unfortunately, Jennifer Jason Leigh, a genuinely gifted actor, issaddled with a part that forces her to play within the confines of atortured soul, making her performance come off as forced andunconvincing, meanwhile Kathy Bates once again fills the screen withher powerful presence, delivering what has to be one of her bestperformances.
The story takes place in cold Maine weather that is so effective thatit almost makes you want to put a jacket on, and in a house that is sogray and lifeless and empty that after watching the movie I had to goto the supermarket and buy a steak. That may not make sense, but here'ssomething that does, the characters in this movie are so well roundedthat it almost seems like a documentary. Definitely worth checking out,even if you're living so far in the past that you still rent fromHollywood Video and pay their late fees. Don't miss this one!
Reviewed byfwmurnauVote: 8/10/10
Somehow this gripping, brilliantly-acted thriller was overlooked andunderrated when it was first released in 1995, but it's probably thebest movie ever made from a Stephen King story.
Kathy Bates has never been better. Her acting is so strong, deep, andsubtle, it's outrageous that she wasn't even nominated for the AcademyAward. I think it's because the film was released early in the year andwas out of theatres already when the nominations were made. She'sbetter here than about ten Oscar-winning actors I can think of, puttogether -- a one-woman textbook of how to act for the screen.
Bates won an Oscar for MISERY, but she's better here, because the storyand the character are more interesting, complex and challenging. Withflawless technique, and great depth of feeling, she delivers one of thefinest screen performances of the 1990s.
Okay, the denouement's a bit strained, and there's a sprinkling ofstilted, hokey lines (Stephen King was never good at writing believabledialogue, and his addition of forced scatology and cussing doesn't makeit any less stilted.) But overall the complicated story, which flashesback and forth over a period of twenty years, is extremely well-told.The constant shifting from past to present is never confusing -- anachievement in itself!
This film never found its audience, somehow, and even some criticsmissed how good it was. I notice Maltin's book now raves over the film,giving it 3 1/2 stars, the same rating he gives to THE SILENCE OF THELAMBS. The violence here is more psychological than bloody, but DOLORESis every bit as good a thriller as LAMBS, and Bates, quite frankly, canact circles around Jodie Foster.
Reviewed bykintopf432 (firstname.lastname@example.org)Vote: 8/10/10
Kathy Bates made quite an impact, so to speak, on the movie-goingpublic with her bravura performance in another Stephen King adaptation,'Misery.' But showy (and fun) as that role was, it wasn't really muchof an acting part--the real heavy lifting in that film was done byJames Caan in his quieter, subtler role as the object of Bates'saffection.
In 'Dolores Claiborne,' Bates finally gets a King role fully worthy ofher range and subtlety. She pulls off the age transformationsbeautifully--I actually wondered at times whether young Dolores or oldDolores was closer to her real age. She still gets to have fun withKing's trademark Maine dialect ('Now you listen to me, Mr. Grand HighPoobah of Uppah Buttcrack!' is a line that gets me every time), but shenever goes too far, and her every gesture tells of her great loves forher daughter and her friend, without ever exaggerating orsentimentalizing them. It's a remarkable performance, and the actressis probably right to remember it as her best role.
The rest of the film into which the performance fits creaks a bit inplaces (the final melodramatic scene at the hearing is pretty hokey),and it's complicated somewhat by Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance,which may be *too* good--her Selena comes off as so angry and selfishthat we don't particularly *want* her to reconcile with her mother. Butoverall, the film's an artistic success, done in a classic Americanstyle, and using the simple but effective device of changing the colorscheme to ease us from the present to the past.
The supporting cast more than stands up to Bates, too. Judy Parfitt isall too believable as Vera Donovan, especially in her youngerincarnation--those of us who grew up in tourist towns are very familiarwith this kind of harpy queen who comes to town and sets up shop forgood. But the part isn't a simple caricature--those tears of anger andpride that Vera cries for Dolores and her daughter feel very realindeed. Christopher Plummer, with his mushy red nose andschoolteacher's diction, overdoes it a bit, perhaps, but it basicallygoes with the character he's been given. And David Strathairn's Joe St.George surely deserves a high place in the canon of Stephen King movievillains. Strathairn makes him as bad as can be, and yet there'soccasionally a playful touch that *almost* makes us see why Doloresmarried him in the first place.
In the end, a rather underrated film, successful on many levels. 8.5.out of 10.
Dolores Claiborne works as a maid for a wealthy woman in remote Maine. When she is indicted for the elderly woman's murder, Dolores' daughter Selena returns from New York, where she has become a big-shot reporter. In the course of working out the details of what has happened, as well as some shady questions from the past and Selena's troubled childhood, many difficult truths are revealed about their family's domestic strife. This is cleverly portrayed with present reality shot in cool blue tones blending seamlessly into flashbacks shot in vivid color. As small town justice relentlessly grinds forward, surprises lie in store for the viewers....