May 03 2008

Overlooked Classics: Dolores Claiborne

Published by at 1:00 pm under Blog,Movies,Overlooked Classics

If you are stuck for something to watch this weekend, you could do worse than head out to your local DVD store (when did we stop calling them Video shops?) and rent out Dolores Claiborne. Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, this movie is beautiful, a perfect mix of stark storytelling and wonderful acting.

Dolores Claiborne, played by Kathy Bates, works as a maid for a wealthy and tyrannical woman in remote Maine. When she is arrested for the elderly woman’s murder, Dolores’ daughter Selena (Jennifer Jason Lee) returns from New York, where she has become a famed reporter. In the course of uncovering the truths to mystery of what has happened, as well as addressing some difficult questions from the past and Selina’s troubled childhood, much is revealed about their family’s domestic strife. As small town justice relentlessly grinds forward, surprises lie in store for the viewer.

There is an epic arc of a storyline that is reminiscent of some of Kings other work, Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption come to mind, where the visceral horror of much of his other work is replaced by emotional trauma and the examination of human interactions.

Directed by Taylor Hackford, who was nominated for an Oscar for Ray a few years back, the strong script and incredible direction still only come second to the truly amazing performance by Kathy Bates. She may have missed out on the Oscar nomination for this movie, but her performance here far outstrips her maniacal turn as Annie Wilkes (in another King adaptation, Misery). Playing an abused wife and a put-upon house maid, she only rarely lets her guard down. Instead she maintains a gruff and cantankerous exterior, which does her no favours when going up against the detective investigating the murder. But it is in her relationship with her daughter, Selena, that we see the heartbreaking history in the characters eyes. Jennifer Jason Lee is not the greatest actress who has ever graced the screen, but as a foil to Bates’ Claiborne, she plays the tragic Selena perfectly. Young Selina too, played by Ellen Muth of the TV series Dead Like Me, is a harrowing character – her portrayal of the young girl, I guarantee, will bring a tear to your eye.

If you’ve never seen this movie, give it a go. I assure you that you will not be disappointed. If you have already seen it, watch it again – so much more to the relationships, the back stories and the beautiful film making is picked up on in the second and third watching.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Overlooked Classics: Dolores Claiborne”

  1. Garyon 03 May 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I feel the exact same way about The Postman.

  2. Letteon 04 May 2008 at 9:44 am

    ahhhhhhhhhh yeah, but I just love Bates, I think she is a GODESS of acting, I loved her in Misery too and Im an oldfashioned one, I hold my head high when I say, I loved fried green tomatoes 🙂

  3. Darrenon 04 May 2008 at 1:27 pm

    There is no shame there. Fried Green Tomatoes is a beautiful movie. Loved it!

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