Dolores Claiborne (2000) from Tuna

Dolores Claiborne (1995) is probably my favorite of the new releases this week, and stars Kathy Bates in the title role, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as her daughter. 


 As the film opens, we hear two woman struggling a the top of the stairs. One falls to the bottom, and the other comes down the stairs, then goes into the kitchen, seemingly out of her head, grabs a marble rolling pin, comes back out, and seems ready to finish off the fallen woman, when the postman arrives. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • Full-length director commentary

Cut to a New York newspaper office, where Leigh is arguing for a plum of a story with her editor, and is given a FAX with a clipping of the story of her mother's arrest. After an absence of 15 years, she returns to Maine, and a mother that she obviously doesn't much like. This Stephan King adaptation is told something  like peeling away the layers of an onion, getting us closer and closer to what happened both in this death and in the death of Leigh's father 15 years before.

Bates should have had an Oscar for her portrayal of this curmudgeonly old  Mainer who had never been off of her island, and had worked for the dead woman for low pay most of her life. An example of her personality is the line, "Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to." 

This is as good a character-driven suspense drama as I have seen in a while.  

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Maltin 3.5/4, Apollo 77.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 86% positive reviews. 

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1 
  • With their dollars ... it did OK; grossed $22 million in the USA, $24 million overseas.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-.

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