Dolores Claiborne Movie Review

Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh have returned in a new Steven King film, Dolores Claiborne. Another departure from typical King fare, this is a tense psychological drama and character study, akin to last year's The Shawshank Redemption (also based on his work).

Set on a depressed and perpetually wet island off the coast of Maine, Dolores Claiborne (Bates) is the focus of the film. Looming in her past is a secret: she may or may not have killed her abusive husband (played in flashbacks by David Strathairn). In the present, Dolores has apparently been driven to madness by her husband and her employer Vera, the elderly woman for whom Dolores nursemaids. At the film's opening, we are presented with what appears to be Vera's death by Dolores's weathered hands.

This all sets the tone for the ensuing investigation, in which Christopher Plummer plays the investigator "thwarted" by Dolores during his investigation of her husband's death 18 years earlier. Selena (Leigh), Dolores's similarly insane daughter shows up to help out in the crisis.

What follows is pretty much predictable. After a promising start, the film begins to rely on way-over-the-top acting, culminating in the worst courtroom scene in years, to get its point across (basically: abuse is bad). Clocking in at well over two hours, Dolores Claiborne is far too long for the audience to stare at the same dull grey sky and dead landscapes, while its stars deadpan for the camera.

Thematically simplistic, Dolores Claiborne is a mildly interesting story with some memorable characters. It's not what we've come to expect from King, and it is a step in the right direction, away from the author's customary schlock horror. But with another King story playing in theaters now as well (The Mangler), it doesn't look like he's changed his evil ways.


Dolores Claiborne Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1995


More Kathy Bates

Jyoti Amge, AKA The World's Smallest Woman, Added To 'American Horror Story' Cast

Jyoti Amge, who became known as “the world’s smallest woman” has been cast in the fourth season of American Horror Story, which bears the somewhat...

Ryan Murphy Has A Role Neil Patrick Harris Would "Love" On 'American Horror Story: Freak Show'

Could Neil Patrick Harris be heading for American Horror Story's Freak Show? Ryan Murphy certainly seems willing for the How I Met Your Mother actor...

Tammy Movie Review

Melissa McCarthy is clearly in a rut: the title character in this film isn't very far removed from her previous roles in The Heat and...

Tammy Trailer

When Tammy is late for work following an unlikely road accident, she is fired from her job at Toppy Jacks fast food restaurant. And that's...


Melissa McCarthy Shines In First Indie Project, "Tammy"

Melissa McCarthy’s star has risen rather rapidly over 2013 and 2014, with the world finally catching on to the comedienne’s brilliance. Now, despite a whole...

Evan Peters "Pumped" Michael Chiklis & Kathy Bates Will Play His Parents In AHS Freak Show

Michael Chiklis, the actor best known for his roles in The Shield and the Fantastic Four movies, will be joining the cast of American Horror...

Tammy Trailer

Tammy's life seems to have just become an unfortunate string of events having been dismissed from her job at fast food joint Toppy Jacks and...

AHS Coven Recap: "Go To Hell" Or The One Where Everybody Died.

Besides being the most aptly named episode of American Horror Story so far – several characters literally went to hell – last night's Go...