Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judy Parfitt, Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn, Eric Bogosian, John C. Reilly
Written by: Tony Gilroy, based on a novel by Stephen King
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
MPAA Rating: R for language and domestic abuse
Running Time: 132
Date: 03/24/1995

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Murder in the Family

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Taylor Hackford directs this, arguably the most mature of the Stephen King adaptations. Dolores (Kathy Bates), who works as a maid, is accused of killing her wealthy, nasty employer, and her estranged daughter, a big city reporter, Selena St. George (Jennifer Jason Leigh) returns to her Maine hometown to help. Hackford and screenwriter Tony Gilroy keep most of the film's secrets at bay, forcing them to concentrate on the vivid, concrete characters, and the impeccable performances by both leads. The film's memorable look, a chilly, granite-colored cloud cover, completes the picture. Christopher Plummer co-stars as a prosecuting attorney, and in an uncharacteristically sleazy role David Strathairn appears in flashback as Dolores' husband and Selena's father. Bates is quite a bit less cartoony than in her Oscar-winning role in Misery (1990), but she failed to receive even a nomination for this one.

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