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Dolores Claiborne

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn, Judy Parfitt, John C. Reilly, Eric Bogosian, Ellen Muth, Bob Gunton

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

Yet another movie that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Stephen King can tell a compelling story without falling back on the traditional elements of horror and the supernatural. DOLORES CLAIBORNE is also the second three-star King film to star Kathy Bates (the first was MISERY). Bates plays Dolores Claiborne, a feisty old woman who's been accused of treating her aging employer to a fatal fall down the stairs. What makes the small-town detective that much more obsessed with putting Claiborne in jail is the fact that Claiborne was also the defendant of a murder trial eighteen years ago, the only one of his 86 cases that hasn't been solved. She was acquitted of a crime that may or may not have been an accident. Her abusive husband fell down a well and died, even though Baby Jessica was down there to break his fall.

Claiborne's daughter, Selena (could have sworn she was murdered too?), played by Jennifer Jason-Leigh, hears of the most recent accusations against her mother and comes home for the first time in years. We learn through flashbacks that Dolores worked as a maid for the dead woman for over twenty-five years and toward the end all they had were each other, even though there was a mutual dislike between the two. And Selena soon begins having flashbacks too (those things are more contagious than yawns) and recovers a few repressed memories that prove to her that her dad wasn't quite the guy she thought he was. For starters, on more than one occasion, he made her bruise his fruit. Tag his cattle. Slap his salami. Bridle his horse. Crash his bumper car. You get the picture, although I'm sure you wish you didn't.

DOLORES CLAIBORNE is a dark thriller with plenty of drama and suspense. Bates does the complicated world of eccentric King characters justice once again in an excellent performance. Sure, she's not the usual emaciated, glamorous Hollywood model/actress. Never mind that 90% of men would choose Cindy Crawford over Kathy Bates (with the other 10% choosing Fabio over both of them), Bates can act Crawford into a mole in the ground... excuse me, a hole in the ground. And is it just me, or does this movie set a new record for use of the word "bitch"?

Copyright 1995 Andrew Hicks

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