Eighteen years ago, the abusive husband of Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) died under mysterious circumstances. His death was ruled an accident despite the suspicions of police detective John Mackey. Now the elderly woman she has nursed for many years has also died - with Dolores found standing over her body with a rolling pin in her upraised hands - and this time she is accused of murder.
Her estranged daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who blames Dolores for her father's death, returns to confront her with her resentment. Are things as cut-and-dried as they seem, or is there more to the story? After years of living a lie, Dolores Claiborne has to finally face the truth with her daughter - or risk losing her for good.
Weaving skillfully between past and present, director Taylor Hackford delivers a deceptively adept melodrama, based on a novel by Stephen King and illuminated by Kathy Bates's bravura performance.