Dolores Claiborne

A cinematic experience. Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason-Leigh deliver two powerful performances as mother and daughter in this striking adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a woman facing her second accusation of first degree murder.

The trail of events and human relationships is scattered with endless questions and ambiguities. Dolores is a woman of the earth, dealing with life and with pain. Unquestionably, along with The Shining and The Dead Zone, this is one of the three best film versions to date derived from Scary Stephen's pen.

Among the members of a spectacular supporting cast special mention must be made of Judy Parfitt for her magnificent portrayal of Vera Donovan, Claiborne's intolerant and intolerable employer, whose suspicious death sets off the chain of events in the film. All of the performances, however, show how effective a film can be without the necessity of resorting to special effects in order to keep an audience's attention. There is, nonetheless, exceptional FX work present in the stunning solar eclipse sequence for this film which both supports and enhances the story line.

The screenplay is beautifully crafted by Tony Gilroy, who has managed to sculpt a story that captivates the audience. It's no wonder that he comes to the screen so well-equipped, having had no less than Jay Presson Allen and William Goldman as mentors as well as being the son of Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank D. Gilroy.

Tony Gilroy establishes himself with this film as a talent to be reckoned with. He has converted the original novel from a first-person monologue into mother-daughter psychological drama. One interesting anecdote behind the scenes concerns an event on location in Nova Scotia: It seems that "Studio B" burned to the ground eliminating any possibility of future filming in Vera Donovan's luxurious bedroom suite. Tony Gilroy was able to rewrite scenes literally on the spot.

Of course, a good script can be ruined by a bad director. Luckily, in this case, the extremely competent talents of Taylor Hackford have rendered a beautiful, sensitive, thrilling, and exciting portrait of a fictional private life in Little Tall Island, Maine.

Director of Photography Gabriel Beristain has created entrancing and sometimes breathtaking images which continually enrich, without disturbing, the development of the tale. More of the same goes for Bruno Rubeo's production design, Mark Warner's editing, and Danny Elfman's score.

How wonderful it is to see a film that utilizes so many cinematic elements and succeeds with all of them. Superb points for, as mentioned above, script, directing, acting, cinematography, production, design, editing, and original score. What else is there left to say?

Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto in life?


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