UK Release date: 8th September 1995
Watched on Sky+ Monday 25th July 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
As some of you may know, I am a fan of the work of Stephen King and as such I’m interested in film adaptations of his work. Unfortunately, many of them are quite bad, fortunately this isn’t one of those. I hadn’t got round to reading the book before seeing this, but I don’t think that affected my enjoyment of it. King invents such great characters and this is a case in point, some really well rounded characters and a mystery thriller to boot! Who couldn’t ask for more? Here’s a brief summary before I give you my take on it.
We begin with the death of Vera Donovan, a rich old lady who lived alone with her carer, Dolores Claiborne. We find Vera at the bottom of the stairs with Dolores standing beside her, arms raised with a heavy rolling pin in her hands. She expires before Dolores uses it, but on that evidence, it doesn’t look good for her. In New York, Dolores has a daughter, Selena, a journalist, who is faxed a copy of a local news report about the case. She arrives in the small town on an island off the coast of Maine to find her mother at the police station. Detective John Mackey, who is running the investigation is keeping here there because the house she was living in, Vera’s, is now a crime scene. Dolores decides to stay in her own house, the one she had shared with her abusive husband, Joe St. George and Selena, before he died many years before. Detective Mackey had investigated that death too, and had been suspicious that Dolores was responsible, but couldn’t prove it. There is a lot of tension between Dolores and Selena, both have secrets. Secrets that are about to be revealed… I’ll leave it there so them Spoiler Police don’t try to throw me down a well or something.
This is a very well made film that obviously had a decent budget. The sets and locations match the mood perfectly. I admit I was a little disappointed at how dull it all looked at first, but I soon realised that all of the flashback scenes, and there’s quite a few of those, are all in vivid colour. As far as performances go, well I can’t fault Kathy Bates as Dolores Claiborne, she hardly put a foot wrong, a masterful performance! Jennifer Jason Leigh also put in a good turn as Selena St. George, as did Judy Parfitt as Vera Donovan. I should also mention Christopher Plummer as Detective John Mackey and David Strathairn as Joe St. George, both also put in fine performances. John C. Reilly had a minor role as Const. Frank Stamshaw and finally a special mention for Ellen Muth, who did an excellent job as Young Selena in some of the flashback scenes.
I really enjoyed this film with its intriguing characters and a plot that always keeps you guessing. It has quite a slow pace and is quite melodramatic, but I didn’t mind that particularly, I was more interested in the characters and the plot. If I have one criticism, it is that it is a little too long and, because of this, it does seem to drag on a bit towards the end. Over all though, a film I very much enjoyed and one I can recommend to you.
My Score: 8.4/10