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.... Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Expert story-telling+fine acting=good entertainment
I first saw "Dolores Claiborne" when it came out in 1995 and have seen it again some 3 or 4 times since, a practice I dedicate only to "certified" masterpieces. At first, I couldn't figure out why I kept revisiting "D.C." when it showed up on cable - it's not a cinematic wonder or a work of art (something it doesn't strive to be, by the way), not even a story that you can say it's really original. But as I became more familiar with the film, I could see why it always pulled me in: it's a triumph of story-telling, of the WAY and PACE the story is revealed in small precise doses much like slowly completing a puzzle, the kind of film you can only let go when the last missing piece (Selena's final flashback) fits into place.
How the story manages to make such initially repulsive characters (all of them!!) develop into sympathetic (or at least pathetic) ones is of course Stephen King's special talent, expertly translated by the fine jobs by the screenwriter, actors and director of "Dolores Claiborne". The cinematography is kind of obvious in its distinct color treatment of past and present, but the entire cast is inspired, including Kathy Bates' best-ever performance (she has stated so herself), especially in the flash-back scenes; delightfully virtuoso Judy Parfitt (you just keep hoping along for more Vera's scenes, and each one of them is a knockout); and reliable pros Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn (such an underrated actor!) and John C. Reilly. Even Jennifer Jason Leigh for once has her irritating mannerisms fit perfectly to build her terribly tormented character.
That's what good story-telling is all about: even if you already know the plot from A to Z, you just want to see once again the way it unfolds, like a good scary fairy tale. "Dolores Claiborne" is not without faults, but it's certainly worth your time, and even more than once.
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