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Dolores Claiborne

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

March. 24,1995
| Drama Crime Mystery

Dolores Claiborne was accused of killing her abusive husband twenty years ago, but the court's findings were inconclusive and she was allowed to walk free. Now she has been accused of killing her employer, Vera Donovan, and this time there is a witness who can place her at the scene of the crime. Things look bad for Dolores when her daughter Selena, a successful Manhattan magazine writer, returns to cover the story.


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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 try...you'll be glad you did.


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.


A brilliant mix of scenes' that come together to tell a very unique story; its not for the faint-hearted but its an important story to tell. It includes a good deal of profanity, sexual references and brief violence. It's a masterpiece that is extremely underrated, it contains the same atmosphere as Stephen Kings Misery, The small town with a close community that has just the bare necessities and is still happy to survive. Family challenges are abundant, and that's what makes this film so special as In the end the family bonds that have been tested to endurance remain between Mother & Daughter. I actually called my own Mother after the movie just to say hi.

Python Hyena

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