"Dolores Claiborne", which tells the story of a woman (Kathy Bates) who has become a murder suspect for the second time, is yet another film based on a Stephen King story. This one finds the title character half-heartedly defending herself against a police investigation which seeks to prove she killed the woman for whom she was acting as a nurse and maid. What makes matters difficult for her is the fact that she was discovered standing above the corpse hoisting a rolling pin as if she were about to strike the body.
Dolores's daughter, Selina (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is summoned to the town by the chief investigator (Christopher Plummer) of the crime. Not coincidentally, this investigator was the one who tried and failed to convict Dolores 20 years earlier for the murder of her husband (David Straithairn). The fact that that was the only case which the investigator had concluded without being satisfied makes him all the more aggressive in pursuing the new case. By the end of the film, the mysteries of both murders are solved.
Because it lacks monsters and supernatural powers, "Dolores Claiborne" is closest in tone to the Stephen King film "Misery". Kathy Bates also starred in that shocker, earning an Academy Award in the process. She could very well be nominated next February for her portrayal of the tough but folksy Dolores Claiborne.
My quibbles with the film, though, are twofold. First, although we see much of the film as flashback leading up to the first death, we don't get to see one iota of the ensuing investigation. Just how the investigation was thwarted is left unsaid. Second, once one realizes Dolores' guilt or innocence in each case, the film is left with little to hold our interest. More a psychological drama than an actual horror flick, the film plays up the dysfunctional relationship between Dolores and Selina. This makes the film more complex than the average murder mystery, but it may leave those expecting more suspense a little disappointed.