Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 9 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    The sensible formality of Taylor Hackford's direction has the effect of cooling the film's narrative frenzies and helping the actors dig some simple, truthful stuff out of the hubbub.
  2. Although most of the elements are familiar and virtually all of the characters are unpleasant, this is a better than average melodrama--mainly because of the volcanic power of Kathy Bates in the title role.
  3. The mysteries of Dolores Claiborne are never gripping enough to consume an audience, and there are few, if any, surprises along the way. But the women are wonderful and reason enough to see the picture.
  4. 70
    Taylor Hackford's film version of the Stephen King novel, has a whopping list of shortcomings -- and yet it still manages to be an engrossing, unsettling and, at times, powerful psychological thriller.
  5. Written as a book-length harangue from its heroine's point of view, and directed efficiently by Taylor Hackford, Dolores Claiborne has become a vivid film that revolves around Ms. Bates's powerhouse of a performance.
  6. Director Taylor Hackford brings an appropriate level of pulpy energy to the telling, and star Kathy Bates... gives a better performance than the film deserves as the grumpy and possibly homicidal title character.
  7. Since there is a mystery, the movie might have been entertaining camp had director Taylor Hackford staged it with pace, style, or a whisper of surprise. Instead, the plot just clunks forward-for two hours and 10 minutes.

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 12, 2014
    10
    Lost in the gloom that is Stephen King is an amazing story empowering to women. Instead of strong archetypes of today's crime shows portraying strong women as those who can sling guns and punch out the bad guys, Dolores Claiborne uses different elements. Dolores holds the burdens of a shattered family over huge spans of time and boldly stands in the way of those who want to destroy her to protect those who matter most. Through the grayness of the setting and the weight of the subject matter is revealed a story of strength, honor, and perseverance. Expand
  2. Feb 11, 2014
    8
    It all starts with Dolores (Bates) wields a rolling pin and tries to finish the life of Vera (Parfitt), a decrepit lady in wheelchair, so the first thing jumped into my mind is, is this MISERY (1990, 8/10) part II, another Stephen King’s creepy thriller starring Kathy Bates?

    Yes, the movie will blow you away, yet in a very divergent way, DOLORES CLAIBORNE is a majestically hatched harangue to the male-dominant society with a pungent tint of misandry, and miraculously, as a male audience, I am not repelled at all, because a trio of actresses thoroughly win me over with their powerhouse rendition, they all act like a **** to survive in the inequitable world, the undertone oozes with bone-chilling malignity which as if we are reaping our own consequences to disparage the worth of womanhood.

    Director Taylor Hackford (Mr. Helen Mirren) maximizes the juicy script (adapted by Tony Gilroy with superb grasp on verbal tit-for-tat) with contrast palettes (seamlessly segue between bleak present and balmy past) to channel us into two unsolved death cases. 15 years later, Selena (Leigh), a young reporter in New York, reluctantly revisits her mother Dolores in remote Maine, who is accused of murdering the aforementioned Vera, a rich widow and the longtime employer of Dolores, who works as a maid in her house for over 20 years. Local detective John Mackey (Plummer) keeps his suspicious eyes on Dolores and steps up offensively, while the friction between the mother-daughter pair exacerbates since there is an irreconcilable one-sided estrangement (Selena to Dolores) or even hatred standing between them.

    Soon what really troubles all these people comes to light, it is many many years ago during an eclipse day, Dolores’ domestic abusive husband Joe (Strathairn, heinous, smug, but dangerously sexy) accidentally (or not?) fell to his death near their home, and Dolores gets away with it (and thus ruined Mackey’s perfect career record), but the truth is never that simple, the justification and motivation behind a premeditated murder is converted to a self-defensive protection, it is a familial harassment with a much dark and more reprehensible secret, but the repercussions haunt and torture the pair for so many years although the maltreater bit the bullet long ago.

    Firstly Kathy Bates is robbed for an Oscar nomination say the very least, compellingly affectionate and decisively bold as a desperate mother who will do anything to offer a better prospect for her daughter, a selfless love which she asks no recompense, even though Selena completely cuts her out of her life, she is just contented to collect her newspaper articles and be as proud as a mother can be. Bates is simply a nonesuch to be a big-screen diva with her killing bearing fluctuating between a vulnerable housewife and redoubtable matron.

    Jennifer Jason Leigh, the most under-appreciated actress among her coeval, strikes as an unthankful and wayward stuck-up hipster at first, but she slowly unwinds her wound with aching perseverance and she is pretty amazing too, we are all fully aware there must be a reason behind all the bickering and rebuffs, then we discover her deepest trauma which she wholly obliterates, it hits like a big bang, and she generates wonderful luster of compassion no lesser than Bates.

    The biggest surprise is the lesser-known theater actress Judy Parfitt, a bona-fide scene-stealer, plumb pivotal to the sinuous storyline, who registers unsettling incarnations during two different time frames, the younger Vera who is haughty and fastidious on the appearance, far-seeing and astute underneath; then the elder Vera, paralyzed and miserable, death is her only salvation and she wants to culminate it in her own way for the last time. Although the
    She is my current win for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS of 1995 while Leigh comes strong as the third. Last but not the least, Christopher Plummer never fail to attain the limelight with his incisive gaze and lucid utterance, even the character is not particularly interesting.

    DOLORES CLAIBORNE radiates phenomenal visual potency by juxtaposing the eclipse marvel with the accentuated action set piece, only when the sun is blocked by the moon, as if it symbolizes, that’s the time the cold-blooded retribution can be consummated with heightened sentient venting! A truly remarkable movie and let’s not diminish the merit of the perfectly aligned score by Danny Elfman.
    Expand

Trailers