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Dolores Claiborne

Year: 1995
Production Co: Castle Rock Entertainment
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Taylor Hackford
Producer: Taylor Hackford
Writer: Stephen King
Cast: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer, David Strathairn, John C Reilly, Eric Bosogian
I don't know quite what I expected from this movie but I was a little disappointed by it. The idea was still very strong as the book was one of Stephen King's best, but the effects are a little shoddy around the edges and it had a really sullen bleakness that I didn't think served the movie very well.

This bleakness was mostly because of the casting of Jennifer Jason Leigh, who I thought was all wrong. The part of Selena called for a really beautiful girl who had a troubled edge, not a scowling emo all in black.

But it's still worth watching and interestingly structured as director Hackford distils a huge amount of information down from the book.

The mailman of a winter-swathed, seaside Maine community walks into the house of the old, rich matriarch Vera to find Vera bloodied and battered at the foot of the stairs and her long time maid Dolores (Bates) standing over her with a rolling pin ready to strike.

It bursts open a local can of worms as Claiborne is taken into custody for murdering the old woman - which Dolores denies, but the aged detective on the case (Plummer) is determined to pin it on her for another reason. Years before, Dolores' husband Joe (Strathairn) died in mysterious circumstances he belives was murder too - one the local constabulary could never prove.

Dolores' headstrong daughter Selena (Leigh), a reporter from New York, reluctantly comes to Dolores' aid, never having forgiven her for the death of her father that Dolores can't - or won't explain.

It's a classic story of dark buried secrets, all of which will come out around this smart, determined and tenacious old woman. The performances and direction are fine, it's the 'what's next-ness' of the story that carries all the impact - if you've never read the book.

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