Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

There's something I've always liked about Jennifer Jason Leigh, beginning from her badass-ness in The HitcherDolores Claiborne is classic non-supernatural King, weaving an intricate and believable story throughout 30 some-odd years of a woman's life.  In my opinion, the movie was cast well, with King-favorite Kathy Bates and the worn and troubled Dolores Claiborne, and Leigh as her bitter and jaded daughter Selena St. George.  With a solid supporting cast, this makes for a good King adaptation, albeit a bit long-winded.

Dolores Claiborne is one of those movies where something happens in the present day, and then we get a bunch of flashbacks and memories as the main character explains what led her to this point.  In this case, Dolores Claiborne is being investigated for the murder of of a cantankerous old woman, Vera Donovan, whom she's worked for over many years.  To make matters complicated, she has always been suspected in the mysterious death of her husband, Joe. 

Her daughter, Selena returns to her hometown on Little Tall Island (off the coast of Maine) to help her mother with her criminal/legal issues.  While she is there, Dolores recounts numerous stories about Selena's childhood, refuting events that she believed to be true for most of her life.  Basically, Dolores's husband and Selena's father was an abusive alcoholic who molested his daughter.  Of course, this is something Selena blocked out for years, believing her mother to be a cold bitch who made her father's life hell.

Dolores also speaks of her time spent with Vera Donovan, a rich woman for whom Delores worked as maid.  Vera was horribly mean and abusive, and fired numerous staff, but for some reason, kept Dolores on over the years.  The two had a special relationship, dysfunctional as it may have been, which ended in Dolores being accused of murder.  Meanwhile, Selena is shocked as she recalls her past, realizing that her mother did much more to protect her than she could have ever thought.  

This is an interesting and well-acted movie which follows the book closely.  Set in a beautiful and haunting island Maine location, it is disturbing at times, but also enlightening.  Kathy Bates did not win an Oscar for this performance, although some believe she should have.  Definitely an excellent drama/horror/thriller from the mind of King.

"Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto."


Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

Kathy Bates is no doubt wonderful in the title role - she's the only one who even attempts the Maine accent, for pity's sake -and the movie itself is pretty underrated. I've always liked it a lot.