DOLORES CLAIBORNE - 1995
Dolores Claiborne is a novel by Stephen King (1993), which was adapted into a 1995 film starring Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and was directed by Taylor Hackford.
I watched this film with Sharon and Gemma, mainly because Sharon had introduced me to Misery and I thought anything starring Kathy Bates was bound to be good. I wasn't sure of what to expect, but we were soon all engrossed in the unfolding story which gripped us from the beginning, but especially from the time her drunken husband hits poor Dolores with a piece of wood in the kitchen.
Dolores Claiborne DVD cover
The direction and photography are excellent with a sensational eclipse, adding to the "Did she or didn't she?" guessing between us. Kathy Bates pulls off another stunning performance, in fact she almost never disappoints me. The other players: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, also put out great performances, which helped this film hit home. NK
Dolores Claiborne works as a maid for a wealthy woman in remote Maine. When she is indicted for the elderly woman's murder, Dolores' daughter Selena returns from New York, where she has become a big-shot reporter. In the course of working out the details of what has happened, as well as some shady questions from the past and Selina's troubled childhood, many difficult truths are revealed about their family's domestic strife. This is cleverly portrayed with present reality shot in cool blue tones blending seamlessly into flashbacks shot in vivid color. As small town justice relentlessly grinds forward, surprises lie in store for the viewers.
The novel is narrated by the title character. Atypically for a King novel, it has no chapters, double-spacing between paragraphs, or other section breaks; thus the text is a single continuous narrative which reads like a transcription of a spoken monologue. She is mentioned in the TV miniseries Storm of the Century, also written by Stephen King.
As the story begins, Dolores Claiborne is in a police interrogation and wants to make clear to the police that she did not kill her wealthy employer, an elderly woman named Vera Donovan whom she has looked after for years. She does, however, confess to the indirect murder of her husband, Joe St. George, almost 30 years before. Her "confession" develops into the story of her life, her troubled marriage, and her relationship with her employer.
Unlike the majority of King's works, the novel does not include supernatural elements. Those that do exist attempt to create a connection to King's previous novel, Gerald's Game. Later editions of the novel have a foreword that explains the connection.
The novel was adapted for the screenplay of a 1995 film of the same name, filmed in Nova Scotia and starring Kathy Bates. The film differs from the novel in two important aspects. First, the events leading up to Joe's murder take place over the course of several months in 1975. In the novel, however, Dolores first rebels against Joe in 1961 or so, although she does not kill him until July 1963.
More importantly, the film focuses less on the investigation into Vera Donovan's death and more on Dolores' relationship with her daughter, Selena. (Due to the film's extensive use of flashbacks, Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as the adult Selena while Ellen Muth portrays Selena as she was at age fourteen.) As many difficult truths are revealed about their family's domestic strife, (this is cleverly portrayed with the present "reality" filmed in cool blue tones, blending seamlessly into flashbacks filmed in vivid colour) the uneasy relationship between mother and daughter becomes increasingly combative throughout the film.
Selena has long suspected her mother of murdering her father, and she demands to know the truth. Dolores eventually persuades Selena that she had no choice but to do the things she did. She lured her drunk and at the time very dangerous husband into an invisible Well-Hole in the garden while he was chasing after her. While Dolores is a murderer, possibly with diminished responsibility, a crime for which she got away with, it appears to the audience they were both victims of Joe St. George, the ever-more abusive husband and child molester of their daughter Selena.
The film provided the inspiration for the song entitled "There is no Arizona" which was performed by Jamie O'Neal. Selena, confessing that she doesn't really have an important assignment in Arizona, tells her mother "There is no Arizona".
Kathy Bates - as Delores Claiborne in the kitchen - a flashback
Memorable Quotes from the Film
Dolores Claiborne: " That is the last time you ever hit me! Next time, one of us is going to the bone yard."
Vera Donovan: " Sometimes, Dolores, an accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend."
Dolores Claiborne: " Now, you listen to me, Mr. Grand High Poobah of Upper Buttcrack, I'm just about half-past give a shit with your fun and games."
Vera Donovan: " Sometimes you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive. Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto."
King (book) Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
LINKS and REFERENCE
Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason-Leigh
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