Dolores Claiborne [1995]

Dark secrets, family torments, and two murders swirl around the stoic, hardened figure of Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates), a housekeeper accused of murdering her employer of 22 years. Then there was that timely accident that took Dolores's husband (David Strathairn) during the solar eclipse of 1975. Yet with all the somber suffering that follows Dolores like a miasma of pain, none of it compares with the heartache of a relationship she has with her grown daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Although this flick is rife with horror, it is not of the supernatural kind, but rather of the torment only real people can impose on one another. The script is full of colorful language, and director Taylor Hackford successfully weaves several plot threads and psychological dilemmas throughout this engrossing tale without diminishing any of them. He not only culls intense performances from his cast, but he also brings to life the landscape around them. When the film's best-kept secret is finally given up, it occurs under the surreal backdrop of a solar eclipse that is a truly sensational bit of cinematography. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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