Dolores Claiborne is a riveting screen adaptation of a 1992 Stephen King novel. Kathy Bates puts in a towering performance as Dolores Claiborne, a feisty, long-suffering, Maine mother who has spent most of her life working as a housekeeper for Vera (Judy Parfitt), a rich, domineering, and finicky woman. She is now suspected of killing her employer for an inheritance.

The small town's chief of police (Christopher Plummer) thinks she is guilty. He is still roiling inside over his failure to prove that Dolores murdered her alcoholic and abusive husband (David Strathairn) years ago. When Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Dolores's New York journalist daughter, shows up after a 15-year absence, all the characters are in place for a rendezvous with the truth.

Director Taylor Hackford impressively shuttles the film back and forth between the past and the present. Dolores Claiborne speaks volumes about the subjugation of women and the hellish nightmare of living in a dysfunctional family.