Dolores Claiborne

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Kathy Bates gives a powerful performance in the title role of this mesmerizing tale set on an island off the coast of Maine. Dolores is a middle-aged, long suffering housekeeper and caretaker for invalid Vera Donovan (Judy Parfitt). When Vera dies from a fall, foul play is suspected by Detective John Mackey (Christopher Plummer). His hunch that Dolores actually pushed Vera stems from the strange facts surrounding the death of Dolores's husband some years earlier. Although she was cleared in that investigation, Detective Mackey still doubts her innocence. Suddenly Dolores' grown daughter, Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh), returns after a 15-year absence. She has become a highly respected New York journalist. She too blames her mother for her father's death, but feels obliged to see that Dolores receives fair treatment in this latest tragedy. Based on a novel by Stephen King, the movie lacks his usual demon-possessed, ghoulish characters. The intense drama presents some very pertinent issues about battered women. It could possibly reap some Academy Award nominations for 1995.

As the truth unfolds, viewers are subjected to flashbacks of a severely dysfunctional family where drunkenness and physical and verbal abuse thrive. In fact, the underlying theme is the horror battered women endure for the sake of their children. Dolores' violent and abusive husband (David Strathairn) seems to care only for Selena, but even that is a twisted, sick affection. Dolores stands up to him with an "eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth" attitude. After he has slammed a two-by-four into her back, she gets the axe and bloodies the side of his face. Most of the time he is in a drunken stupor, spouting obscenities and profanities non-stop. She responds in kind. Selena too has problems " an addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. Dolores' sacrifices for her child reveal her deep love for Selena. Though the townspeople shun Dolores, Dolores tells Selena it only matters what she (Selena) thinks of her. Unfortunately, all of the male characters are portrayed as chauvinistic and pompous. While we can sympathize with Dolores, it is difficult to admire her. DOLORES CLAIBORNE's bloody violence and continuous expletives cannot be justified.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (47) times - Mild 20, Moderate 27

Obscene Language: Many (41) times (f-word 13, s-word 19, other 9)

Profanity: Many (32) times - Regular 25, Exclamatory 7

Violence: Several times - Moderate and Severe (invalid falls down stairs, bloodied head; man hits wife several times, once with 2 x 4; wife attacks husband with axe, bloody wounds; woman causes man to fall in well; bites him in self-defense)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (man in underwear moons woman; man forces child to touch him inappropriately; incest implied)

Drugs: Drug and alcohol abuse many times (drinking whiskey out of bottle, in bar; pill-popping young woman) not condoned

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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