23 May 2004 | GayIthacan
What Is Past Is Prologue...
Few Stephen King works of fiction translate well to the screen. Horror elements are best left described rather than shown - so that the darkest recesses of our own imaginations can fill in the details. The horror visions of others may or may not affect us the same way - more often than not, they fall short of true terror.
But DOLORES CLAIBORNE is the exception - a masterful condensation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. More compact and deeply psychological than the novel, the film focuses almost exclusively on telling the story (in both present-day AND multiple flashback story lines) of Dolores Claiborne and her daughter, Selena.
Charged with murdering her wealthy but crippled employer, Dolores (Kathy Bates) is reunited with her estranged daughter, Selena (Jennifer Jason-Leigh). Sullen, brilliant, but deeply disturbed by a past that still obviously haunts her, Selena returns to the lonely and isolated Maine fishing village to help her mother face the legal and familial issues raised by the murder accusation.
We learn that Dolores had previously been suspected of killing her abusive and alcoholic husband. The same detective who had been unable to press the case 17 years earlier is now assigned to the new investigation. And as his work proceeds, secrets from the past reveal themselves, through brilliant use of flashbacks.
The acting by all concerned is first rate, with Bates giving probably her finest non-Oscar-nominated performance. Jason-Leigh is spot-on as the psychologically damaged and cynical Selena - more a victim than even she knows. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the detective.
Taylor Hackford's direction is absolutely brilliant - as is the use of color saturation and creative scene blending and transition to move seamlessly between present and past.
This is an outstanding film - well worth the Oscar nominations it received (as well as those it did not!). HIghest rating!