Kathy Bates and Judy Parfitt in “Dolores Claiborne”

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By Scott Ross

Dolores - Bates

The great Kathy Bates as Dolores Claiborne.

Although the movie is nowhere near as good as Stephen King’s literary thriller — that the filmmakers did not trust the material is evident in their making Dolores’ daughter, who barely appears in the novel, a central character  — their movie contains two superb performances. As the battered wife of an unrepentant drunk, Bates gave us the flip-side of King’s Annie Wilkes from Misery, as warm and conflicted as Annie was coldly psychotic.

Dolores - Parfitt

Judy Parfitt as Dolores’ wealthy employer, Vera Donovan. The central mystery of the story — did Dolores murder the bed-ridden, seemingly unreconstructed rich-bitch Vera, or merely help her only friend end her suffering? — is also central to the role, and the British Parfitt was stunningly good. Her iconic line, “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got to hold on to,” ultimately proves heartbreaking in context.

 

Text copyright 2014 by Scott Ross

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