Dolores Claiborne

1995

Dolores Claiborne

Critics Consensus

Post-Misery Kathy Bates proves to be another wonderful conduit for Stephen King's novels in this patient, gradually terrifying thriller.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 42

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 30,224
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Dolores Claiborne Photos

Movie Info

A daughter who has come to imagine the worst about her mother learns the facts are quite different -- and more shocking than she ever imagined -- in this adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling novel. Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) has spent nearly a quarter of a century looking after a mean-spirited woman named Vera Donovan (Judy Parfitt) on a small island off the coast of Maine; when Vera is found dead after falling down a flight of stairs, Dolores is considered a prime suspect in her murder. Word of the affair reaches New York-based journalist Selena St. George (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Dolores's estranged daughter. Though she's about to leave on an important assignment, Selena instead flies to Maine to find out what's happened with her mother. Selena's father, Joe St. George (David Strathairn), died under mysterious circumstances 15 years before; more than a few people believe Dolores killed Joe, and many feel she did the same with Vera. Though the strong and tough-talking Dolores stands her ground, police detective John Mackey (Christopher Plummer) is convinced that there's more to her story than she's letting on, and in time Selena learns the ugly truth about her mother's connection to both deaths. This was Kathy Bates's second starring role in a film based on Stephen King's work; she earned an Academy Award for her breakthrough role in the movie version of King's Misery.

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Cast

Kathy Bates
as Dolores Claiborne
Jennifer Jason Leigh
as Selena St. George
Judy Parfitt
as Vera Donovan
Christopher Plummer
as Det. John Mackey
David Strathairn
as Joe St. George
John C. Reilly
as Constable Frank Stamshaw
Ellen Muth
as Young Selena
Bob Gunton
as Mr. Pease
Roy Cooper
as Magistrate
Wayne Robson
as Sammy Merchant
Ruth Marshall
as Secretary
Vernon Steel
as Ferry Vendor
Weldon Allen
as Bartender
Tom Gallant
as Searcher
Kelly Burnett
as Jack Donovan
Matt Appleby
as Kid on Street
Thomas Skinner
as Kid on Street
Vernon Steele
as Ferry Vendor
Taffara Jessica
as Selena (age 5)
Stella Murray
as Selena (age 5)
Susan Lane
as Crying Girl
Frank Adamson
as Detective Supervisor
Ed Rubin
as Detective Supervisor
Dean Eilertson
as Moving Man
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News & Interviews for Dolores Claiborne

Critic Reviews for Dolores Claiborne

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (10)

  • Deftly cutting between the past and the present, director Taylor Hackford manages to establish a compelling mood and pace even though the pic lacks a thriller's true "Aha!" moment.

    Jun 16, 2008 | Full Review…

    Brian Lowry

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The role of Dolores may be rough around the edges, but it's a windfall for Ms. Bates, who does a walloping good job.

    May 20, 2003 | Full Review…
  • The mysteries of "Dolores Claiborne" are never gripping enough to consume an audience, and there are few, if any, surprises along the way. But the women are wonderful and reason enough to see the picture.

    Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • An engrossing, unsettling and, at times, powerful psychological thriller.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • There are no chain saws, prosthetic hooks, apparitions or dead pets here, but you're kept at the edge of your seat almost to the end.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • I was surprised how affecting the movie was, mostly because Bates and Leigh formed such a well-matched and convincing pair. Does this movie creep up on you? Oh, my gravy.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dolores Claiborne

  • Jul 06, 2018
    Smartly acted and directed, this is one of the finer Stephen King adaptations you'll find.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 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.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 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.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 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.
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer

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