Misery loves company as Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christopher Plummer star in an atmospheric whodunit that’s part mystery, part human drama and wholly entertaining. A haunting adaptation of Stephen King’s novel from the director of “The Devil’s Year”.
Based on a book by Stephen King of the same title, Dolores Claiborne is set in the harsh, rugged, north eastern backdrop of Little Tall Island, Maine (filmed in Nova Scotia, Canada); Stephen King weaves an equally harsh tale of small town insularity, alcoholism, domestic violence and a mother and daughter’s estrangement.
In the opening scenes we see Dolores Claiborne standing over her former employer, Vera Donovan with a marble rolling pin raised to strike a mortal blow. From this we may assume that we are being presented with a very straightforward tale of murder, on the contrary, what we get is anything but straightforward. What we do know is that the finger of suspicion will point to Dolores as the murderer; she is going to have a hard time proving her innocence, especially since she was interrupted by a witness and was also suspected of the murder of her husband many years earlier.
The film is told in a series of flashbacks which is accomplished with great effect by the use of colour and creative scene transitions, the past being more vibrant whilst the present is depicted in a dreary tone. This movie is a challenging mix of many themes some of which have already been mentioned, yet it all works well together thanks to Taylor Hackford’s skillful direction. The cinematography is excellent; wide, sweeping landscapes, beautiful but remote and uninviting. This together with the portrayal of small town mentality and careful use of pace provide a poignant and realistic feel.
As you watch this film one is likely to be aware of echoes of other pieces by King namely, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery and the Green Mile. Fortunately King left this film well alone to the experts, the film makers, as he is apt to spoil things when he interferes, as in the Golden Years and Langoliers.
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christopher Plummer gave talented performances and Kathy Bates is utterly brilliant. The whole cast and well written movie plot kept me captivated from the very beginning to the end.
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