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Academy Award® Winner
The story of three women searching for more potent, meaningful lives. Each is alive at a different time and place; all are linked by their yearnings and their fears.
Starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore... View more >
Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.
Jan 22, 2003
Flowers, Mrs. Dalloway, dysfunctional relationships, tears, and silence unite three similar yet very different women in director Stephen Daldry's The Hours.
Screenwriter David Hare's adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize winning novel adeptly uses the silence that imprisons Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) to convey dominant feelings of loneliness, incongruity, and despair. Life is not about major events; life is about the time in between the major events, and the life one chooses or does not choose in these frequently volatile hours.
The script largely questions the essence of happiness as well as the possibility of truly experiencing this coveted emotion. Powerful performances by Kidman, Moore, and Streep heighten the inherent intensity of the story and atone for the film's overly obvious themes.
People often associate quietness with peacefulness. Woolf strolls in the idyllic wooded countryside with her beloved sister and niece. Dan Brown (John C. Reilly) peeks into the bedroom and smiles when he sees his pregnant wife sleeping comfortably in the noiseless house. Vaughan and her daughter, Julia (Clair Danes), rest in each other's arms after a meaningful conversation. But these moments of tranquility are exceptions rather than the rule. The quietness is infrequent and serene while the silence is persistent and uncomfortable. Woolf wades into the water more than once determined to silence herself forever. Like other women in the 1950s, Brown uses the expected silence and a smile to conceal her suffering. Vaughan lies wide awake early in the morning, but she does not say a word when Sally (Allison Janney), her lover, sneaks into the bedroom and gently crawls into bed.
All of the women have much to say, but they cannot find words to free themselves from their confinement. They viscerally understand what poet Richard Brown (Ed Harris) meant when he said that life cannot be written down. Life cannot be written down; life can only be lived. And what does it mean, then, when mental illness, society, or self-imposed affliction forces a person into silence and a position in which life is not able to be lived?
Kidman does not receive more screen time than the other characters, but she deserves top billing for her honest portrayal of a woman who loved but who was difficult to love. The film is steady in its intensity and its ability to engage the audience, but one cannot help but to listen a bit more closely when the Bloomsbury Group author appears onscreen. She speaks lines that explain the entire movie in a few words: "I'm living a life I have no wish to live-how did this happen?" and "You cannot find peace by ignoring life" are phrases each woman in each vastly different time period likely uttered or thought. Kidman, even more, deserves acclaim that focuses on her performance rather than the much-talked-about prosthetic nose that certainly altered her appearance, but more importantly helped the actress transform herself into the Woolf character. The film could have worked without the nose; the film could not have worked without Kidman.
Streep adds another noteworthy performance to her resume with this emotionally demanding role. Moore, not yet an accomplished screen veteran like Streep or a Hollywood icon like Kidman, is convincing even though the circumstances surrounding her predicament are almost entirely unexplained. Some people might criticize the script for its lack of supporting details, but the attentive audience member should be satisfied with the provided information. Unlike the parallels between the women's lives, the women all possess a definite ambiguity. This ambiguity is especially appropriate for Moore's character, an Everywoman role, but it also maintains a proper mysteriousness that surrounds the characters played by Streep and Kidman.
The men and children exist as secondary characters in The Hours, and all of them are one-dimensional with the exception of Richard Brown, but they too deserve mention. This is a story about women and women's issues, but it is not a story that neglects or criticizes men or their relationship with women. One might even say the film contains a minor theme about men who truly love their women, even though they fail to utter the words, but who cannot for one reason or another make their women happy. The men do not commit any wrongs, but the situation is entirely out of their hands, which is a fact they do not understand. The children in the film, on the contrary, seem to understand more about life's complexities and difficulties than the adults including the idea that they cannot control everything. Young newcomer Jack Rovello melts the audience with his big, blue eyes, and delivers an outstanding performance as Richie Brown.
Early in The Hours, Clarissa asks, "Why is everything wrong?" One might leave the theater after watching this film asking, "How did this creative team get so much right?" The initial editing mimics the nervousness of Woolf's shaky hand. Philip Glass' beautiful original score that plays over the silence is often present but never obtrusive. The story is well paced and intelligent. None of the actors deliver a weak performance. The leading ladies leave little room for any major criticism. The film is not flawless, but it teaches a person to accept imperfections and to appreciate life for what it is rather than what it is not.
Feb 5, 2003
Definitely a chick flic. Also works for movie freaks. It tries to be a "what is going on" kind of movie, and there are serious philosophical themes.
It just squeaks into 'see now' because of strong performances all around and Oscar potential.
Feb 18, 2003
This was a very good movie. I would rate as SEE NOW except it really needs to be seen more than once to catch all the nuances that the dialogue would carry. The movie weaves a tale that comes full circle. It is appealing intellectually and visually.
Feb 19, 2003
"The Hours" is a powerful drama about three women from three different time periods who lives are at a crossroads. the center of this movie is one of Virgina Woolf's novels "Mrs. Dalloway."
Many people will find this movie depressing. The late film critic Gene Siskel always said that only bad movies are depressing. "The Hours" isn't a depressing movie. This is a hopeful movie full of life and hope. Strong performances from Nicole Kidman(As Virgina Woolf), Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris, Claire Danes and Alason Jannury. You are compel into these women's lives and their stories.
This film deserve the Oscar nominations and deserve your attention. Whose Afraid of Virgina Woolf? Not Me, and neither should you. "The Hours" are two hours worthy of your time.
Feb 24, 2003
Mar 10, 2003
The Hours ignores the larger theme of Mrs. Dalloway, which is the de-humanization caused by war. VW created Mrs. Dalloway to show the deadened emotions and empty life of the ruling class, and their callous attitude toward the shell-shocked veteran, Septimus. I don't believe VW ever intended that women abandon home and hearth as death for dubious "careers"
I think an added scene in the film would have clarified that: To Wit: Cook: Cooking your meals is death, mum. (Throws down apron) If I go to London, it won't be for ginger. I'm going to have a career on the London Stage. I'm talented, I am." VW: But I can't cook. I'm an intellectual." Scully maid: "Don't look at me. I fancy myself a writer and I'm leaving too." VW: "But my sister is coming this afternoon." Cook: "Let her make the kidney pie then." Scully maid: "Before I go mum, could I talk to Leonard about an advance and a contract for my memoirs?" VW: "Whatever would you write about?" Scully maid: "Why the bloody weird goings on in this house, mum."
Mar 18, 2003
Seeing this movie was a very emotional experience. The pain of the various characters was almost palpable and felt extremely real. The Philip Glass score was a perfect accompaniment to and intensifier of the visual images.
Apr 3, 2003
Moody, inscrutable, spare. Sometimes you need dialog and context. Hare gives us precious little. Fortunately the actresses are up to the task, so the movie doesn't completely suck.
Take your prozac first. Contrary to the "happy" ending, the soundtrack rides out with what sounds like a quote from New Order: the perfect kiss is the kiss of death.
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