Dolores Claiborne - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dolores Claiborne Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 26, 2011
Constable: Going on a morning walk?
Dolores Claiborne: No, I'm just packing the get-away boat, so I can make my great escape.

Dolores Claiborne is a good drama from Stephen King that translates well to the screen. Kathy Bates gives a great performance as Dolores; a woman who is a suspect in a murder investigation. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays her daughter who has been gone for 15 years. A great supporting cast features Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, and Eric Bogosian(the guy from one of the most underrated films of all-time, Talk Radio). Danny Elfman gives the film a great score like always. It always makes me laugh when people complain about Stephen King books not being good movies. There's been Shawshank, The Green Mile, The Dead Zone, 1408, The Shining, Misery, Stand By Me, Carrie, Christine and Dolores Claiborne. Looks like they translate well.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
A shocking drama from King, about a mother and daughter and a secret. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, and I think you will be too. I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2009
This was far better than what I was expecting. (Even though I'm a Stephen King fan in general, this particular plot didn't seem too interesting to me.) There are a few turns and twists, most of which (if not all) are predictable, but the way they're unveiled is commendable. And the stellar performance by almost every actor involved only made the movie more worthwhile.
Super Reviewer
December 20, 2010
Not as good as Misery, but is any Kathy Bates move as good as that one? There's a lot of misery in this movie, everyone seems so unhappy. I wanted it to be more revenge-y, but it' wasn't and it got real, real fast. It's just okay.
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2010
Personally I think Stephen King's more realistic story's are his best, including his book Dolores Claiborne.
And Kathy Bates is perfect for the role as Dolores.
Super Reviewer
March 15, 2008
The storys main attraction is Dolores herself,(Kathy Bates), a brazen, tough-talking housekeeper who finds herself suspected of killing her employer.This becomes an occasion for Dolores to examine her past for the benefit of a police investigator (Christopher Plummer), to salt her story and to get reacquainted with her estranged daughter, Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh). I thought it was a good movie with great acting from an excellent cast~!
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2010
I'd heard so much about this movie all these years and said I'd give it a watch, and FINALLY did on New Year's 2010. I should've watched this about 14 years ago when it was all over tv! Kathy Bates is amazing and Jennifer Jason (hey, that's my name!) Leigh does well also. If I'd known this was a Stephen King movie, I'd have watched it ages ago....don't know why I never really read what it was about, cause that piqued my interest also. It's one of those films where you ultimately draw your own conclusion as to whether you think said person did the right thing and who was in the wrong and who was in the right, and I like that. Almost all Stephen King movies rock, and this is no exception! Oh, and I love how the characters keep reminiscing and seeing things that happened in the past, cause I spend alot of time doing that in real life myself.
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2006
A rather untypical Stephen King story, although some of his regular motifs return was turned into one of the best adaptions of his books. Set in the grey, gloomy, yet beautiful images of the present, as a daughter returns home for her mother's murder trial as well as the colorful, warm colors of the flashbacks, where we learn about their past and the fate of their husband and father, the story is carried by its strong characters and the great acting. Although the film consists mostly of conversations and moves rather slowly, it is still gripping and captivating in every moment, the solution and flashback showdown during the total eclipse of the sun even very exciting. A moving, very entertaining drama. Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to.
Super Reviewer
½ February 6, 2007
This thoughtful Stephen King adaptation is drawn from another of the terror master's straight dramas and benefits from Kathy Bates's performance as a Maine housekeeper accused of murdering her employer and now reluctantly reunited with her estrangled daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Bate's acting is so strong, deep, and subtle since Misery because the story and the character are more interesting, complex and challenging.
Super Reviewer
July 27, 2009
If there is one thing I always fear, than it must be movies about bad marriages, an abusive husband, child abuse ... How often do you get a good movie with such subjects. Not very often, because most of the time these are awful TV-movies that seem to be written at a rate of at least one an hour. Always following the same concept, always trying to make the poor viewer cry his eyes out while saying that that poor woman / child didn't deserve to be treated that bad. Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not saying that it should be tolerated. Men who do such awful things can't be punished hard enough, but the movies that are made about this subjects are complete crap most of the time.

"Dolores Claiborne" tells the story of a woman who is accused of murdering the wealthy woman she worked for as a maid in Maine. When her daughter Selena finds out that her mother is accused of this crime, she immediately returns home from New York, leaving her job as an important reporter behind for a while. But she doesn't return to support her mother as you might expect. No, she's almost certain that she did it and she seems to try to get a good story out of it. But gradually she finds out what really happened and in the meantime some awful things about Selena's troubled childhood, the awful family life,... come floating at the surface again.

I know that I said in the beginning of this review that most movies with such a subject are plain crap, but there are always expectations to every rule and "Dolores Claiborne" certainly is one of those exceptions. It was written by Stephen King and it shows. The man knows how to build up suspense and certainly can give you an uneasy feeling while reading his books or watching one of 'his' movies. And "Dolores Claiborne" has a lot more depth than you might expect at first. The only thing is that they have managed to disguise it, not giving away too much information at a time. Only at the end of the movie you'll fully understand what has happened and what the reason was for both women to react the way they did.

What I also liked, next to the story, was the way everything is shot. All the scenes in the present are shot in those cool blue tones, but these blend seamlessly into the flashbacks that were shot in vivid colors. This gives an extra touch to the story that certainly works. You know exactly what is the present and what is the past, but those colors also add a lot to the drama.

But the way a movie was shot alone doesn't make it good of course. That's what good actors who do some excellent things are for. And that's also exactly what you'll get from Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer... Jennifer Jason Leigh is nice as the daughter, but it's Kathy Bates and Christopher Plummer who give away the best performances in my opinion. Bates is stunning as the tormented woman who's personality seems so strong, while in reality she is a broken soul who wishes for nothing much but to die as soon as possible, so all her misery can end. And I also loved Plummer as Detective John Mackey who's hate against Dolores is so big, because she is the only spot on an almost spotless career. He has solved all his cases except for one and he'll not rest until he can send Dolores to jail.

All in all this is a very good and suspenseful movie that never tries to become a tearjerker, despite the heavy subject. It offers some great acting, nice photography and a good story
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2006
A good story, but a tad drawn out. It?s not a typical Stephen King but Kathy Bates certainly made it one of the believable ones.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2007
An engaging story about Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) accused of murder in the present and in the past. It's a well-done movie, though a bit long.
Super Reviewer
July 21, 2007
Spooky drama about broken families and murder. Excellent cast.
Super Reviewer
½ May 6, 2007
A particularly dour Stephen King adaptation (exactly how many of them are there out there?!) that's well acted and nicely shot. The revelation at the end won't come as a huge shock, but the journey is entertaining enough.
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2012
I was initially a little skeptical about this, mainly because it is supposedly a psychological thriller, yet it sounded like a pretty predictable drama. My skepticism was pretty much spot-on, and the movie felt like what could have just been the main character explaining what happened, but instead was stretched out into a full-length movie. As great as Kathy Bates is at just about everything she does, the plot wasn't all that interesting to me, and it was far from a thriller.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2011
Dolores Claiborne is not your typical Steven King vehicle, it's a straight drama with haunting imagery and horrifying secrets. The script worked well, as did the overall flow of the story. I thought the direction was very competent, and was especially impressed with how the film incorporated flashbacks. Kathy Bates was phenomenal (Judy Parfitt was almost as good, and David Strathairn deserves an honorable mention). Unfortunately, though, the same can't be said about Jennifer Jason Leigh who was a bit too melodramatic. The ending scene with the magistrate felt forced and too cliche for an otherwise smart film. Minor criticisms aside, this is a fine, authentic, and mature thriller.
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2013
A mostly standard mid-90s melodrama that's elevated by some strong performances (Leigh is the standout among a first rate cast) and a solid screenplay.
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2009
It is rare that a movie manages to be as good as the novel from which it was adapted, as books generally have deeper plots and characters from the movie that finally emerges but Dolares Claiborne is an almost perfect movie. The story by Stephen King is excellent, the acting is outstanding, and the scenery is just beautiful. I was totally engrossed in the storyline and the depths of all the characters. Dolores is married to a stupid, drunken loaf of a man (David Straithern) who dies under "mysterious" circumstances. Now she is accused of killing her employer.

The movie switches between the present and the past as the layers of each character's story and motivations unfold, showing a deeper side to Dolores and enabling Jennifer Jason Leigh (the daughter) to finally grow up and see her mother for the resilient woman she is: a woman who will do anything to protect her child. It is wonderfully written, brilliantly acted, and you will not be able to keep yourself from cheering Dolores on, as she watches her husband fall down that pit.

Judy Parfitt is Vera Donovan, Dolores' rich employer who teaches her that "sometimes being a bitch is the only thing a woman has". She explains to Dolores how "husbands die every day" after she finds out about Dolores' home life and it is terrifying how convinced she is on the subject. She is astounding. Her performances as both rich/cold matron with a soft spot to stroke victim years later is compelling to watch.

Dolores's daughter, Jennifer comes across as an uncaring, bitter and selfish girl, but as the story unfolds, again we learn why and understand. The last ten minutes, when Jennifer is at her best, beats many of the great court room dramas that I have seen lately. This is one of the best Stephen King movies there is!
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2007
I was really expecting more with this. I thought Kathy Bates was good as always,but I wish there had been more story,and some of it not so drawn out.
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