Dolores Claiborne

Day 61.

I watched Dolores Claiborne as a kid, but the only part I remember was the fatal accident that killed Joe, Dolores’s husband. I decided to watch this movie again after seeing a clip of it in class. This is an excellent film featuring outstanding performances from Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Christopher Plummer, as well as ample food for thought.

At the start of the film, we see Dolores (Bates) apparently attempting to kill her employer Vera Donovan. An investigation led by Detective Mackey (Plummer) provides the framework of the film as we discover Dolores’s tumultuous family life and previous accusation of killing her husband. Even though this movie deals with heavy problems including physical abuse, child molestation, drinking, and murder, it surprisingly doesn’t feel depressing. The dark blue color scheme is very drab, but fits perfectly with the solemn events and cold New England setting. Also, unlike most modern movies that are mostly blue, the color served a purpose and wasn’t dark enough to hinder my view of the film. The use of dark and warm colors to transition from the present to the past is superb.

Dolores is a complex character that Kathy Bates portrays perfectly. She captures her headstrong nature, but also reveals how helpless she is. Her love-hate relationship with Vera was surprising and a great addition to the story. Leigh‘s portrayal of Selena, Dolores’s daughter, is also impressive. She clearly is a tortured soul who tries to be an independent and aggressive city girl, but is actually very vulnerable. I can’t believe her father was abusing her on a public ferry. Outside? Seriously?

As you all know, I’m big on realism and this movie provided just that. Like Selena, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Dolores’s involvement in her husband’s “accident.” I can see why she did it, but it still isn’t right. An interesting quote in this film is “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to.” I’m not sure whether or not I agree with this statement, partially because I don’t view the word bitch as positive at all. In Dolores’s case, I don’t view her actions as being a bitch, but rather a woman determined to protect her daughter.

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