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The latest Stephen King best seller to hit the big screen features Kathy Bates as a coarse-tongued yet endearing heroine who supports herself by caring for a rich invalid (Judy Parfitt) while mourning her estrangement from her deeply disturbed daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The villain is Dolores' husband, a drunken wife beater (David Strathairn) who deserves the bad end she arranges for him in a tale complicated by its vagueness. "King boldly uses the most primitive and melodramatic forms to explore very basic emotional issues," says TIME critic Richard Schickel. "This is his fantasia on feminist themes."