Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dolores Claiborne. C

Even if I wasn't a fan of the Stephen King movies, Dolores Claiborne would have still been seen just because of all the names behind it. While I was watching the opening credits, I was surprised, and in some cases shocked, at the names I recognized. Besides King and the director, Taylor Hackford, there's the cast, Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, and David Strathairn. The movie is also composed by Danny Elfman, and written for the screen by Tony Gilroy. So this movie has a lot going for it, and while I admired the way it was made, I can't help but look at it subjectively. I did not enjoy watching the film, a letdown in and of itself and because Stephen King's stories always leave me wanting more. The scenes set in the present are cold, hard, gray and depressing. Everyone's skin is either white or purple to the point where we relish the flashbacks that are rich with lush spring colors. Yet the irony is that while the present scenes are driving towards the warmth of forgiveness despite their visual pallidness, the past ones are bleak beyond measure, and also the the key to the secrets of the present. Bates plays the title character who is accused of killing her elderly employer. The movie opens with what looks like a scuffle between the two before the old woman falls down the stairs. Dolores (the classic crazy killer lady name) runs for a rolling pin to finish the job but the old woman dies before she can. Plummer plays the sheriff, who, along with the viewer, seems convinced that Dolores is guilty. Then comes her daughter Selena, a reporter who keeps talking about dark things from the past. Then we learn that maybe Plummer has hidden motivations in the case. Then we get the flashbacks. There's a whole lot of interesting dilemmas and revelations in the movie, but none of it was enjoyable to watch. I didn't like the characters, and thought that Leigh's performance was unbearable (again, a lot of this is subjective, as Leigh is an actress I can't stand). And lastly, I found the ending to be a grave disappointment. It ties things up all nice and sweet with a verbal showdown both improbable and cliched. This isn't supernatural Stephen King. This is in more Shawshank/Stand By Me territory, except that as a movie it hardly compares with either of them.

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