Dolores Claiborne (1995) Poster

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MartinHafer22 February 2016
This story is one of the best but least appreciated films based on a Stephen King story. I am not sure why it wasn't more widely acclaimed...perhaps Kathy Bates' prior performance in "Misery" overshadowed this one. All I know is that thought the story was terrific...with some nice twists.

The story is, naturally, about a woman by the same name (Bates). She lives alone in a house...and is widely thought to be a murderess following the death of her friend, an old woman. Dolores' daughter lives in the big city and when she returns home due to the sensational story, she slowly learned what really happened through flashbacks. And, naturally, what the audience and her daughter THINK happened actually didn't.

The film has terrific acting, a great story and keeps you guessing. Don't believe me, give it a'll be glad you did.
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TheLittleSongbird25 February 2011
One of the best Stephen King adaptations along with The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and Misery, Dolores Claiborne is an excellent film.

It looks striking while not straying too far from the intended atmosphere, the script is well written and tense, the atmosphere is chilling and evocative and the story is ceaselessly gripping even with the length.

The direction also impresses, as does how the characters are developed and written especially the title character. The acting is one of Dolores Claiborne's best assets. Jennifer Jason Leigh is very, very good, Christopher Plummer is magnificent while Kathy Bates steals very single scene she's in in another superb performance.

In conclusion, this film is most excellent and highly recommended. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Keeping secrets
bkoganbing11 January 2016
Dolores Claiborne is a film about keeping secrets. Everyone does here and when they are revealed we have the sum and substance of the film.

This film will be quite the revelation to those who think Stephen King can only write about otherworldly creatures invading our space. Dolores Claiborne shows that we humans can be terrifying in and of ourselves just being who we are.

The title role is played by Kathy Bates. She's a widow suspected in the death of wealthy widow Judy Parfitt for whom she was housekeeper and general factotum. Parfitt fell down a flight of stairs in her home and the authorities in the person of Christopher Plummer think she had help from Bates.

Plummer several years ago investigated the death of Claiborne's husband David Strathairn who was a drunken lout and something even more sinister I won't reveal. He couldn't make the case, but he's determined to get Bates and make up for the fact this was the one case out of 86 homicides he did not make an arrest.

Jennifer Jason Leigh who is the daughter of Strathairn and Bates who is an investigative reporter working in New York. She comes in to town to see if she can help her mother. It's between Bates and Jason Leigh that we learn about how everyone is keeping secrets and as the secrets are revealed we see how the characters true nature is.

The climax of the film is the coroner's inquest where Jason Leigh and Plummer go head to head. The last of the secrets are revealed and Jennifer who covered enough homicide cases rips the arrogant Plummer into shreds. As they dialog, Kathy Bates sits by and watches and does some of her best acting with her eyes. It's a touching scene with highest quality of acting all around.

In fact Dolores Claiborne ought to be required viewing for potential thespians. Not all of it involves written words even if they're written by a writer as acclaimed as Stephen King.
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Kathy Bates great again
SnoopyStyle12 November 2015
On an island in Maine, housekeeper Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) is detained after her employer Vera Donovan falls to her death. The mailman stops Dolores before she smashes Vera's head in with a rolling pin. In NYC, Dolores' journalist daughter Selena St. George (Jennifer Jason Leigh) receives a mysterious fax with a news report about the incident. She returns to her hometown to help her mother. Dolores' abusive drunken husband Joe St. George (David Strathairn) is revealed in flashbacks.

Kathy Bates is great once again in another adaptation of a Stephen King psychological thriller. There is nothing supernatural except for Bates' acting abilities. If there is a problem, it's a bit too long with so few thrilling moments. The reveals are terrific. Strathairn is a great villain. It would be better if the movie is tighter.
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Bates Shines in Subdued Portrayal
Hitchcoc8 January 2017
I remember trying to stop watching this film because I had a lot to do at the time. I could not. The subject matter is gut wrenching and the storytelling superb. Bates has been charged with killing an elderly lady for whom she has been working as a caregiver. She has been caught in a compromising posture, looking like she is about to finish her off. When Dolores's estranged daughter shows up, the fireworks start. The daughter is carrying incredible baggage and hatred of her mother and has not seen her in years. As the two interact, dredging up a childhood of possible abuse, the daughter refuses to believe anything. Dolores's story is utterly unbelievable to her. What makes this film is an intricate pacing that begins to let the dire events unfold for us. It doesn't insult our intelligence. There have been other movies with the same basic theme, I know, but this is an under-appreciated film that should have gotten a lot more attention. Also, you Stephen King fans, this is a mainstream story, though the word horror could be used at times.
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Kathy Bates
Kirpianuscus8 October 2015
she does one of the most seductive roles of her career. the entire dust and sand and fury and cold compassion and wise manner to define the events, the strange innocence and the form of angry are reflected in admirable manner. a film about justice. and survive. and an unique atmosphere. because it is one of the films who preserves in high manner the spirit of novel not only as adaptation but as the precise exploration of the small details who defines the force of the lines. a film about the struggle of a mother . and her strange victory. the landscapes, that Maine from the book,the dialogs, the special logic of Dolores are pillars of this film who has the rare gift to be a Stephen King in a not ordinary form of accuracy.
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Wonderful performances, compelling story
bob the moo4 February 2002
Selena St George returns to her Maine island home to be reunited with her estranged mother Dolores. Dolores has been charged with the murder of her long time wealthy employer Vera, and all the evidence points to her guilt. Inspector Mackey leads the investigation, however his view is tainted as he failed to convict Dolores for the murder of her husband Joe, almost 20 years ago - his only unclosed case. As the present murder is investigated the truth about the past is slowly revealed.

How many Hollywood films give good roles to women. Not many - certainly not older women. This stands out because it has three good roles for women and a very strong supporting cast. The story is compelling, the present murder is slowly revealed, while the back story between Dolores, Selena, Joe and Vera is slowly spun out in memories. The various strands are all gripping - the level of detail and back story is excellent. The way the past is weaved into the present is well handled and you never feel like there's too much going on - each strand compliments the others.

The flashbacks are well filmed - each memory is painted bright with sunshine and gaudy colours. Like Selena's memory, it all seems better in hindsight. The present is filmed in pale greys, not even flesh colours come across - everyone looks ashen and grey. The director also deserves praise with the way he blends the present scenes into the past - the camera moves slightly revealing past action. At the end, every story is revealed and it's very satisfying.

As I said, the cast are excellent. If Bates got an Oscar for Misery then she more than deserved one here. She is superb in older and younger roles. She has some annoying habits, mainly the phrases she uses - but she brings out so much hurt, so many layers and so much resentment really well. Jason-Leigh is as good as always and is suitably disturbed - she is very well matched by her younger version, Ellen Muth, who matched Leigh's manner and speech well. Parfitt is an excellent Vera, she has a smaller role but deals with the changes very well. The support cast are all excellent - three stand out. Strathairn is excellent as the abusive Joe, Plummer is great as the cop, who turns out to have as many unresolved issues as Selena. The cast is rounded off by John C Reilly, who is always great.

Overall this is a well-acted compelling story. It lacks the sudden horror of Misery, but is a much more fully developed character piece.
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gavin694221 October 2013
A big-city reporter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) travels to the small town where her mother (Kathy Bates) has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid.

Aside from the performances of Chris Plummer, John C. Reilly and the young Selena, I really was not terribly impressed. Not that Kathy Bates did a bad job. She did a fine job. But the plot was so blah and the script did not seem to flow right...

Something was missing, and it was not made up for by the mention of "Shawshank Prison" (although that helped). I would have to give this film another look to properly analyze it amongst King's other works, but frankly I have little interest in doing so.
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sometimes, an intense movie can be anyone's best friend
lee_eisenberg29 May 2007
I remember back in March, 1995, when my grandparents were visiting, my grandfather took me to see "Tommy Boy" while my parents and grandmother went and saw "Dolores Claiborne". When I eventually saw the latter, it blew my mind. Kathy Bates goes beyond her "Misery" role, playing a more intense role than most people could probably imagine. Her good job with the Maine accent almost made me fear her, though I understood perfectly well why she did what she did. But the characters who really made my blood freeze were Christopher Plummer as the cruel police chief and David Strathairn as Dolores's creepy husband. As for Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dolores's daughter, I didn't find her as intense as the aforementioned cast members, but she still did a good job.

Anyway, if this movie doesn't make you feel like your breath got cut off, then I don't know what will. It portrays some pretty ugly events, but you have to agree with what Dolores does. Also starring Judy Parfitt and John C. Reilly.
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Dolores Claiborne
jboothmillard14 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
From director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, The Devil's Advocate, Ray), I recognised the title after seeing it mentioned once before and because of the lead actress, but I didn't know it was based on Stephen Kind until I watched it. Basically Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) is the woman working in remote Maine as a maid for the rich, elderly and paralysed Vera Donovan (Judy Parfitt), and she is caught after possibly pushing her down the stairs and ready to finish her off with a rolling pin. The old woman dies and she arrested for her suspected murder, and her daughter Selena St. George (Single White Female's Jennifer Jason Leigh), now a big-shot reporter, has returned from New York to support her. Dolores insists she did not kill Vera, but the entire town believe twenty year ago she murdered her husband Joe St. George (The Bourne Ultimatum's David Strathairn), so she has little sympathy, especially from Detective John Mackey (Christopher Plummer) who wants to put her away for life. Selena also believed the suspected murder of her father, and through flashbacks we see Dolores suffering abuse from the alcoholic Joe, as well as him stealing from Selena's family account, but worse was her suspicions that he molested his own daughter. There is an argument after the will from Vera claiming she left her a fortune is shown and Selena refuses to help her mother, and Dolores decides to finally reveal the truth. Through flashback we see Vera being mean giving Dolores too many housework and chores, but she softens when they bond through home troubles, and she decides enough is enough. The past reveals Young Selena (Ellen Muth) was sent away, and during a total solar eclipse Dolores gives Joe some whisky and she tells that she knows about his stealing and the molestation, and she makes him fall into the well to die at the bottom. In the end, after remembering a suppressed memory Selena confirms that she was indeed molested by her own father, and she confirms Dolores is innocent, Vera wanted to die, and the case is dropped. Also starring Eric Bogosian as Peter, John C. Reilly as Constable Frank Stamshaw, Bob Gunton as Mr. Pease and Roy Cooper as Magistrate. Bates, who won the Oscar for Stephen Kind based Misery five years before is great, even with the dotty possibly Canadian accent, and Leigh is also really good as her daughter who is not sure what to believe for a while, it is a film with some eye-catching moments and an engaging story, a most watchable mystery drama. Very good!
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Great performances from two great actresses
Tweekums22 July 2009
While this isn't a film I'd watch often because of the subject matter it is none the less a brilliant film starring two great actresses on top form. There may not be vast amounts of action but that doesn't stop it being an exciting thriller which is fairly disturbing in places.

The film opens with two women struggling at the top of a flight of stairs, we can't see what is going on, just hear it. One of them falls and the other comes down the stairs, goes to the kitchen and gets a rolling pin, she stands over the fallen woman with the rolling pin over her head when the postman enters. This woman is the eponymous Dolores Claibourne played by the excellent Kathy Bates. The police suspect that Dolores has murdered her employer but don't have enough evidence to hold her. Somebody in the town sends a fax of the local newspaper report to Dolores' estranged daughter Selena, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is working as a reporter in New York, when she gets this she returns to Maine.

What follows is a gripping story which not only includes the present case but the death of Selena's father many years before. The police officer who investigated the earlier case was certain that Dolores had murdered her abusive husband but couldn't prove it, now investigating the second death he is determined that he will convict her. Much of the story is shown in flashback to when Selena was a child before her father died.

The acting to top notch throughout, not just the two leading ladies; David Strathairn as the abusive husband, Ellen Muth as the young Selena and Christopher Plummer as the detective stand out in particular. The juxtaposition of the grey and wet present with the bright and sunny flashback scenes means we are never in any doubt about which time period we are watching even when both periods are on the screen at the same time.
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Kathy Bates is at the top of her game--but this is an impossible story...
moonspinner5510 April 2006
Director Taylor Hackford, not known for working well with actresses, helps Kathy Bates give another superb performance (in yet another Stephen King drama, following "Misery"). Unfortunately, this King-derived plot verges on the ridiculous, concerning ornery woman in a tiny Maine community who was once involved in the death of her abusive husband and is now the suspect in the death of the rich old dowager she cares for. Stuffed full of sub-plots, the picture almost drowns in melodrama. Bates gives a colorful, involving, multi-layered performance, however, and has some well-written, big show-off scenes to sink her chops into; Jennifer Jason Leigh has far less to work with as Bates' estranged daughter, but Hackford does a good job at slipping in and out of the present, and although the story is overwrought, his fluid work commands attention. **1/2 from ****
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Kathy Bates is Frumpy Good in Gripping Story ***1/2
edwagreen26 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Obviously, a drunkard, such as the role that David Strathairn played was one where he was forced to marry a very frumpy looking Kathy Bates.

Bates easily topped her Oscar winning performance in "Misery" in this creative film dealing with a variety of social problems.

Bates is equally matched by an outstanding supporting cast including her neurotic victimized daughter, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and the town sheriff, played with relish by Christopher Plummer. He is out to get Bates for the murder of her husband as well some 18 years before.

Bates plays a housekeeper to a very vicious, perfectionist woman for many years. You have to wonder why she stayed with her that along, especially when the woman becomes bedridden. The surprise of the lesbian angle between the 2 women must have come as a jolt to the audience.

Go know that Leigh was physically abused by her father as well.

These interlocking problems certainly serves this movie quite well.

Bates, as a victim of circumstances all around, is terrific here.
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Overlain Truth
tedg5 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Stephen King is cursed: most of the tricks he pulls in writing seem like they can be translated cinematically. But when the time comes they fall down a well.

The trick this time is simple: Two realities. The one we think we see and understand, running concurrent with a past that annotates and changes the future so that at the end we see a changed reality.

The agent and as it turns out fulcrum of the past story is a reporter, whose eyes we use. The clever fold is the reversal of the detective form. There is a detective, and he is persistently working on a hunch as the form requires.

Detective stories are a game between reader and writer for who successfully invents reality. Usually, the reader is given the detective's eyes. Here, the reader is given the writer's eyes: JJ Leigh does her fast talking writer from `Hudsucker' and `Dorothy Parker.'

The cinematic translation is Dolores' visions. But it just doesn't work on screen as it does on the page. In the written version, WE see the past and can map it onto Selena's discovery. Here, Dolores sees and we do too. It confuses us about who we are.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.
hitchcockthelegend14 July 2012
Dolores Claiborne is directed by Taylor Hackford and adapted to screenplay by Tony Gilroy from the novel of the same name written by Stephen King. It stars Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Strathairn, John C. Riley, Christopher Plummer and Judy Parfitt. Music is scored by Danny Elfman and cinematography by Gabriel Beristain.

Plot sees Leigh as Selena St. George, a big-city reporter who travels to her home town island in Maine when her mother is accused of murdering the elderly woman that she was caring for. Her estranged mother, Dolores (Bates), is also widely suspected to have killed her husband and Selena's father some 20 years earlier, even though that was ruled as an accident. As mother and daughter come together, secrets of the past merge with the harshness of the present.

A terrifically well acted and well mounted drama doing justice to a great book, Dolores Claiborne thrusts family trauma to the front of an on going murder investigation. King adaptations are well known for being very hit and miss, but this is certainly one of the better ones, it sees a shift from standard horror monsters, to monsters of a different kind, the human ones. Played out to a perpetually dank backdrop of rain, grey skies and a sea devoid of beauty, film unfolds to reveal the sadness of one family's roots, where emotional discord hangs heavy, constantly.

The structure is well handled by Hackford, as present day scenes merge into those from the past, giving off a perfectly ghost like feel to the plotting. Plummer's weary detective John Mackey is a bit too underwritten for my liking, and the time afforded the pre-trial debate and inquest is simply not enough to make the required impact once all the revelations come tumbling forward - the latter of which is nearly unforgivable given the film runs at over two hours. However, slight irks aside, this is still great stuff and if only for the trio of lead lady performances then this is a must see for the drama seeking film fan whom wants some intelligent emotional heft in the screenplay. 8/10
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Too Depressing
Theo Robertson9 February 2003
It`s not all that often that we get to see a Stephen King adaption with absolutely no supernatural or horror elements hit the big screen but DOLORES CLAIBORNE is far more disturbing than stuff like GRAVEYARD SHIFT , NEEDFULL THINGS or SALEMS LOT due to the subject matter . It involves trailer trash , unlawful killing , child sex abuse , mental breakdown , wife beating and alcoholism , so it`s not got much in the way of entertainment even though it is very well acted by all the cast especially Kathy Bates in the title role . This is a very bleak depressing story which I found to be a total turn off and I`m in no great hurry to watch it again
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Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.
Hey_Sweden30 August 2013
A talented group of filmmakers take a particularly interesting Stephen King novel, one that basically amounts to one long monologue by the main character, and fleshes it out quite well, giving each of the main characters their own chance to shine. It's a long but heavily engrossing story of damaged people affected deeply by the past and living in a dreary present, and a story of the fractured relationship between a long estranged mother and daughter with differing memories of long ago events. Eventually truths are revealed and they are finally able to make some sort of attempt at coping.

Kathy Bates, who'd performed so superbly and memorably as the villainess in the previous King adaptation "Misery", here plays a more sympathetic person, the title woman who's had to put up with a lot of garbage during her life. In the present day she stands accused of murdering her longtime employer, Vera Donovan (Judy Parfitt). This brings Dolores' bitter daughter Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh) home for the first time in a while. Selena still hasn't forgiven Dolores for the past, and a weary old detective bearing a grudge (Christopher Plummer) is determined that this time he will prove Dolores to be a killer.

Set on a fictional Maine island dubbed Little Tall Island, this was filmed in Canadas' province of Nova Scotia (which is close enough to Maine geographically), and there's plenty of atmosphere to be enjoyed in the presentation. The films' biggest visual hook is the way that director Taylor Hackford and director of photography Gabriel Beristain differentiate points in time, by having the past be bright and sunny and well lit to having lots of overcast skies and a somber mood to permeate the modern scenes.

The tale itself is one of Kings' best, and it receives respectful treatment from Hackford and screenwriter Tony Gilroy, who with the assistance of some very good actors create a rich gallery of personalities. Bates, Leigh, and Plummer are all wonderful; David Strathairn is very much slime personified as the worthless husband / father, Parfitt is a delight as the rich society type with more heart than she likes to reveal, Ellen Muth is touching as the teen aged version of Selena, and John C. Reilly is likable as well meaning constable Frank Stamshaw.

Everything is further enhanced by a haunting and emotional score composed by Danny Elfman and good visual effects; the climactic solar eclipse is well realized on film.

Those King fans disappointed with the quality of some of the films based on his work need only check out or revisit this resonant gem. Dolores is one of those great King characters whom you know you'll remember.

Eight out of 10.
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Stephen King's story works even better on film...
Doylenf1 January 2007
KATHY BATES is the title character, an aging woman from a fishing village in Maine with a dark past and a daughter (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH) with whom she shares a dark secret. It's based on a Stephen King novel that has been fleshed out with deeper characterizations, some excellent vistas of New England providing realistic atmosphere, and a satisfying conclusion to a dark tale.

Bates and Leigh (as the far away daughter Selena who returns to help her mother through tough legal problems when her mother is accused of a crime), are excellent, and all of their scenes together have a ring of truth. The supporting roles too are in the capable hands of actors like CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER (as a detective who is convinced of Claiborne's guilt) and David STRATHAIRN as Joe St. George, Bates' abusive alcoholic husband.

Just as Grace Metalious' PEYTON PLACE was transferred to the screen from a rather trashy novel and improved considerably by a more tastefully written screenplay, this Stephen King story benefits from the expansion of character and development as a psychological tale of an abused wife and daughter.

KATHY BATES gives one of her most heartfelt performances as the victimized woman suspected of murder. Well worth watching and the authentic Maine atmosphere adds considerably to the flavor of a good story.
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LeonLouisRicci4 August 2021
This Stephen King Sourced Story also has the "King" Co-Authoring the Script.

With the Talented Tony Gilroy...Directed-Wrote "Duplicity" (2009)..."Michael Clayton" (2007)...Screen-Play "The Bourne Series"..."Rogue One" A Star Wars Story" (2016)

Director Hackford has Done some Fine Films..."Ray" (2004)..."Devil's Advocate" (1997).

But Topping-Off All of the Collaborations are Stellar Performance Across the Board...

Lead By Kathy Bates (her personal fave and perhaps her best)

Jennifer Jason Leigh...Michael Straithran Christoper Plummer... Judy Parfitt

Outstanding Cinematography, Atmospheric Locations, and Good Score (Danny Elfman)

It's a Combination of Film-Art Coalescing to Deliver High-Powered Melodramatic Personal Cinema at its Best.

Family Drama...Chick-Flick...Slice-of-Life...

This one Transcends the Labels to Rise as one of the "Best-In-Class',

Highly Over-Looked, Unseen, Underrated, and Undeserving the Neglect.

The Film's Profundity Stays With You.

The Story Takes-On some Tuff Stuff...

Spousal Abuse...Child Sexual Abuse...Work-for-Hire Servitude...Slanted Law Enforcement...Age Related Accelerated Decrepitude

Be Prepared for a...

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Excellent psychological/suspense mystery
neil-4765 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Selena St George reluctantly returns to the small Maine island where she grew up, and where her estranged mother Dolores is being held by police. Dolores worked for bitter old crippled woman Vera Donovan, and following Vera dying after falling downstairs, Detective Mackey is holding her on suspicion of murder: after all, he is convinced she murdered her husband, but he couldn't prove it.

This is adapted from one of Stephen King's shorter and most subtle books: though not without its nightmarish elements, it is far from a horror story, and King wrote the character Dolores with Kathy Bates in mind.

The story unwinds through flashbacks, and the intermingling of recollection, reality and prejudicial interpretation keep the mystery element working throughout the film. All five principle performers (Bates as Dolores, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Selena, Judy Parfitt as Vera, Christopher Plummer as Mackey, and David Strathairn as Joe St George) are excellent, as is the adaptation by Tony Gilroy and the direction by Taylor Hackford.

This is not only the great overlooked Stephen King adaptations, it is also probably the classiest.
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Minor Stephen King Work Gives Great Material to Two Great Actresses
evanston_dad18 May 2009
The minor Stephen King novel makes for a surprisingly good film.

Credit for the film's quality must be given largely to Kathy Bates, in the title role, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who plays her estranged daughter. Bates plays a victim of spouse abuse who plans the death of her husband to release her from her own hell; Leigh is the daughter who hates her mom without truly understanding her. Both women are terrific. In performances like this and her turn in "Fried Green Tomatoes," Kathy Bates was able to quickly evade the typecasting danger that followed her after her success in "Misery," while Jennifer Jason Leigh gave just one more in a string of under-appreciated performances throughout the 1990s.

Worth checking out.

Grade: A-
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Bates Does It Again
view_and_review26 June 2014
Kathy Bates stars in another Stephen King project and again she does an excellent job. When a young woman, Selena St. George played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, comes back home she returns to a place of many bad memories. Her mother, Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates), faces charges of murder when Judy Parfitt (Vera Donovan), the lady she was caring for, ends up dead.

The movie is really about Dolores Claiborne's struggles in a small town in Maine. She suffered through an abusive relationship with her husband, a demeaning relationship with her employer and a volatile relationship with her daughter. Dolores wasn't the smartest nor the prettiest but she was strong. She bore her hardships and found ways to push past them.

We all love a tale of triumph or overcoming oppression, especially when it is done with good acting. Dolores Claiborne was just that. A movie light on blithesome moments still provided glimpses of satisfaction to restore your hope in all that's good.
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Performances Avoided by Oscars?
anaconda-4065826 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Dolores Claiborne (1995): Dir: Taylor Hackford / Cast: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn, Judy Parfitt: Compelling thriller about endurable secrets. Kathy Bates stars as Dolores Claiborne who is in police custody for the murder of her boss. She claims to be innocent even though she was witnessed holding a rolling pin over the victim's head. Her daughter Selena arrives home due to an anonymous fax. Christopher Plummer portrays the lawyer out to prove Claiborne guilty. Their hatred dates back to the 1963 eclipse when he was unable to prove that she murdered her abusive husband. Director Taylor Hackford does a remarkable job going from past to present using lighting. Powerful performance by Bates whose past harbours scars but her future contains hope with a confession to her daughter to unearth buried pain. Jennifer Jason Leigh is flawless as her daughter Selena who uses pills to block out scars yet come to grips when she is her mother's last line of defence. Plummer is outstanding as the cynical lawyer whose only loss is to Claiborne but can he risk losing again? David Strathairn is vile as Claiborne's abusive liquor guzzling husband whose death is questionable moral. Judy Parfitt plays Claiborne's boss Vera Donovan whose presence is icy yet steers Claiborne to her ultimate option. Powerful and compelling film regarding carefully hidden sins. Score: 8 / 10
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Kathy Bates
AaronCapenBanner6 December 2013
Taylor Hackford directed this compelling adaptation of the Stephen King novel that stars Kathy Bates as Dolores Claiborne, a feisty woman living in remote Maine who is under investigation for the death of her long-time employer Vera Donovan(played by Judy Parfitt). Dolores' daughter Selena(played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) now a big city reporter, goes back home to help her, but secrets from the past involving her father(played by David Strathairn) are uncovered that will change both women forever... Superb performances, especially Bates, highlight this imaginatively directed and most interesting mystery. Christopher Plummer costars as the detective with a grudge.
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No Misery, but it's not bad
The_Void17 April 2005
Dolores Claiborne is a very solid adaptation of a book by a man who is probably the king of modern horror literature: Stephen King (I haven't read that many books, so I can't say for sure). I haven't read the original source material, but judging by this film it is safe to say that it wasn't meant to be horror-per say, as the film follows more of a psychological thriller pattern when it comes to plotting; despite some blatant horror influences. The style of plotting is relatively exciting, and it shows both the current events, which it then intertwines with flashbacks of the past. This sort of film can easily get muddled, but you have to give credit to Dolores Claiborne as it successfully manages to keep itself on the straight and narrow with regards to plotting. The film follows the story of a housekeeper who has allegedly murdered her employer by throwing her down the stairs. The plot thickens when her daughter, who still blames her mother for the mysterious death of her father, comes to town to see what's going on with her parent.

Kathy Bates, who impressed in the 1990 Stephen King adaptation of 'Misery', overacts here, it has to be said, but in spite of that she still brings believability and a relative degree of sympathy to her character, and it's very easy to see why director Taylor Hackford would have cast her in the title role. She is joined on screen by a woman who is one of today's most underrated performers; Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh impresses throughout the film and although her character is definitely second to Bates' in the film's hierarchy, Leigh still delivers the best performance in the movie. While the film is always good enough to be called interesting, it is overlong and had the action have been compacted, the resulting movie would have been far more thrilling and as it is a thrillers' main aim to be thrilling; shortening the movie down would definitely have been a good idea. While this movie isn't exactly a fine example of the genre, it's a solid thriller and if you find yourself with nothing better to do one night while this film is on television; you could do a lot worse than watch it.
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