Halloween Kingathon – Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Banner-3logoDirector: Taylor Hackford

Writer: Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) Stephen King (Novel)

Starring: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judy Parfitt, Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn, Eric Boogosian, John C Reilly, Ellen Muth, Bob Gunton

Plot: A big-city reporter travels to the small town where her mother has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant Story

Story: Dolores Claiborne starts with a fight between Dolores (Bates) and Vera Donovan (Parfitt) which leads to a witness walking in on Dolores standing over the body of Vera. When hot shot reporter Selena St. George (Leigh) hears about what has happened she has to return home to look into the story. Det John Mackey (Plummer) is the lead investigator on the case with an old friend police officer Frank Stamshaw (Reilly) trying to keep things together.

Dolores didn’t want Selena too be involved in the case and didn’t even recognized Selena, it becomes clear the too have become very distant and that Dolores is very confrontational. We watch the flashbacks of Dolores as she had to deal with an abusive husband Joe (Strathairn) who also had a mysterious death. Dolores also recounts how she ended up working for Vera and her obsessive ways but how it was all work to help Selena.

We are left with Dolores and Selena dealing with the past as the truths come back to haunt them both while they uncover the truth about what really happened all while dealing with John who was determined to catch Dolores this time.

Dolores Claiborne tells the story of how difficult facing your past can be, but it also shows how just because you remember event one way they could be a different side to the story. The story manages to get the balance of flashbacks down perfectly only just showing parts before finally giving us the final reveals. This shows just how to tell a story the right well giving us enough to keep us guessing and surprise by the end. (8/10)

Actor Review

Kathy Bates: Dolores Claiborne is the long suffering carer who is being charged with her murder, she has been through hell in life just working to make sure her daughter got a chance escape the dead end job. She has had a troubled relationship with her daughter and this case could be the final nail in the coffin for them both. Kathy gives a very powerful performance that could easily be one of her best. (9/10)

Jennifer Jason Leigh: Selena St. George is the big shot reporter who has to return home to help defend her mother from a murder charge but coming home only shows how the memories from her past have scared her life, but this does give her a chance to bury the memories. Jennifer gives us a great performance. (8/10)

Judy Parfitt: Vera Donovan is the victim that Dolores is meant to have killed, she is the lady that Dolores has been working for, for years and as the story continues we learn how they became quiet close. Judy gives a great performance in the supporting role. (8/10)

Christopher Plummer: Det. John Mackey has had it out for Dolores ever since her husband’s death which he still suspects her of committing till this day. He has taken this case personally and wants to throw the books at her. Christopher gives a good villainous performance but I do feel we need a little more from his character. (7/10)

David Strathairn: Joe St. George is the abusive husband of Dolores who died under suspicious circumstances but did he really die in an accident or was he murdered. David gives us a good performance in what is a very dark role. (8/10)

Support Cast: Dolores Claiborne has a supporting cast that are only small part in the final story, focusing mostly on the relationship between Dolores and Selena.

Director Review: Taylor HackfordTaylor brings us a brilliantly told story from start to finish keeping everything simple. (9/10)

Crime: Dolores Claiborne puts us into a story where we have to try and figure out what happened in the case. (9/10)

Drama: Dolores Claiborne shows how the relationship has effected the lives of of both Dolores and Selena. (9/10)

Mystery: Dolores Claiborne creates a mystery about what really happened. (9/10)

Settings: Dolores Claiborne puts nearly the whole story in a small remote town showing how determined Dolores was to get Selena out. (10/10)

Suggestion: Dolores Claiborne is one for all the murder mystery fans to enjoy but the whole film could be enjoyed by all. (Watch)

Best Part: Kathy Bates is brilliant.

Worst Part: Hard to find one.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $24 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minute

Tagline: Sometimes, an accident can be an unhappy woman’s best friend

Trivia: Judy Parfitt was recommended for the role of Vera by director Taylor Hackford‘s wife,Helen Mirren. Parfitt, who had largely confined her career to the stage, was virtually unknown to film audiences at the time. After auditioning with Kathy Bates, Bates reportedly turned to Hackford and gasped “Who was that?” They agreed to cast Parfitt on the spot.

Overall: A must watch for all Stephen King fans, a real gem in the collection.

Rating 85


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