Charlene C. (mccoffield) from SOUTHLAKE, TX Reviewed on 4/25/2011...
This is a great film based on a great book, and if you like the writing of Virginia Woolf, you will especially like and appreciate this movie, THE HOURS. It is based on the novel of the same name, written by Michael Cunningham and which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. (Interestingly, THE HOURS was the original working title of Virginia Woolf's MRS. DALLOWAY.)
THE HOURS is the story of three women, outstandingly played by Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore, each living in separate times but connected through life experiences and character similarities. The central theme throughout the three interlocking stories of these women is Virginia Woolf and her most famous character, Mrs. Dalloway.
THE HOURS won 32 film awards and was nominted for another 71, including 9 Oscars. Nicole Kidman won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf. Another Golden Globe was won for Best Motion Picture in the Drama category. Great performances were also contributed by Julianne Moore, who protrays Laura Brown - a pregnant but unhappy 1950's housewife, and by Meryl Streep, who portrays Clarissa Vaughan - a modern day Mrs. Dalloway.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, writes: "The Hours uses all the resources of cinema - masterful writing, superb acting, and directorial intelligence - to make a film whose cumulative power takes viewers by surprise."
David Ansen of Newsweek writes: "Seductive and brilliant! It may be set in 1923 or 1951 or 2001, but it is always vividly, urgently, NOW."
DVD special features include Commentary by Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman; Commentary by director Stephen Daldry and novelist Michael Cunningham; Filmmakers Introduction. It also includes four featurettes: Three Women; The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf; The Music of The Hours; The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway.
If you like this movie, I would suggest reading the book by Michael Cunningham. I would also suggest reading MRS. DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf.
Gail S. (Bella44) from MEDINA, OH Reviewed on 3/16/2008...
Fabulous cast with great performances (especially by Kidman!) Wonderful storyline based loosely upon the book "Mrs. Dalloway," written by Virginia Woolf. The movie gives further insight into the life and times of this great author and makes one want to learn more about her and her writings. The "Special Features" sections provides a great narrative and glimpse into her life. Highly recommend this one!
A Remarkable Cast in Their Finest "Hours"
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 01/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An intelligent and lyrical film adaptation of Michael Cunningham's exquisite Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the ways in which any person's life can be drastically altered during the course of a seemingly normal day. The story cuts back and forth between three women's stories: in 1923, novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is writing her novel "Mrs. Dalloway" while recuperating from a mental breakdown; in 1950's Los Angeles, housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is reading Woolf's book and feeling a growing sense of desperation about her bland suburban existence; and in 2001 New York, middle-aged Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is planning a party to honor a dying friend (Ed Harris) who has referred to her by the nickname "Mrs. Dalloway" since their youthful affair many years previously. Like Cunningham's book, the film spins all three stories simultaneously, pointing out the similarities and differences between each of the women's lives; and then finally ties all three threads together in a spectacularly clever and thought-provoking twist that reveals the larger pattern of the plot (some audiences members in the theatre where I saw the film actually gasped aloud as they began to understand). As befits such a character-driven film, the acting in "The Hours" is uniformly superb. Meryl Streep is luminous throughout as Clarissa, but particularly shines in her final scenes as she welcomes a stranger into her home; and Julianne Moore brings a fascinating combination of fragility and power to the role of the repressed Laura. Toni Collette infuses her short scenes as Laura's friend and neighbor Kitty with a marvelous counterpoint to Moore's quiet introspection; Miranda Richardson is restrained Victorian perfection as Virginia Woolf's demure sister; and Ed Harris is achingly brilliant in the small but showy role of Clarissa's dying friend. Among this handful of flawless characterizations, it is Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf who nonetheless stands out. She completely disappears into her role; although much comment has been made about Kidman's prosthetic nose and the way it completely changes her appearance, it is not makeup alone which transforms the vivacious actress into the dowdy authoress. Kidman uses her mouth and eyes with incredible economy: her bowed lips move without disturbing her pale, translucent cheeks; and her downturned, darting eyes communicate eloquently her character's sense of uneasy restlessness. Kidman's Virginia seems uncomfortable in her tall body, and her voice is dangerously strained. It's a transcendent performance, and one with which Kidman solidifies her growing reputation as one of her generation's most talented screen actresses.The film is beautifully photographed in dark, muted hues; the sets appear just as they were described in Cunningham's hauntingly visual novel. While Philip Glass's score is at times a bit obtrusive, it nonetheless contibutes effectively to the atmosphere of the film. The most stunning technical achievement of the film is the wonderful costume design; clothing styles and fabrics have been painstakingly planned and executed, providing some subtle foreshadowing and highlighting of important themes and motifs thoughout the narrative. Costumer Ann Roth should definitely find herself in the running for an Oscar, as should Streep, Moore, Kidman, Harris, director Stephen Daldry, film editor Peter Boyle, and of course, the Picture itself. Altogether, "The Hours" is an outstanding film that provides an extraordinary cast ample and unique opportunities to shine, especially its formidable trio of leading ladies."
Haunting, Beautiful, Sad, a monumental achievement
Mathias | NY | 04/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The writer of this film has achieved the impossible in the movie business: create an intruiging, beautiful, yet filmable version of a very untheatrical novel. And boy do they succeed.The film focuses around three women, remarkably portrayed by Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman.
Kidman is Virginia Woolf, whom is the key in the plot and a link between the other two characters. As she begins to write "Mrs. Dalloway," perhaps her most famous novel, we see events unfolding in a single day in the lives of two other women in different locations and time periods:Pregnant Laura Brown, in a haunting, nearly silent performance by Moore mainly opposite a small boy, is coming to terms with the fact that she is miserable in her marriage to the humble and loving Dan (John C. Reilly). One of her only comforts is reading Virginia Woolf, in the film mainly "Mrs. Dalloway."The third woman is Clarissa Vaughn, in a wonderful performance by Streep, whose link to Woolf is that she is actually living the novel "Mrs. Dalloway," except in present-day New York.As the single day unfolds, the emotions and personalities of the characters are the main focus, much like in Woolf's novels, and the seamless edits and chilling Phillip Glass score contribute to the overall sad mood.All in all, the transition from book to movie is highly successful and smooth, the performances are marvelous, and director Stephen Daldry proves once again how talented he is in his craft.I can also provide evidence for those reading negative reviews: the short running time in one review is actually pushing two hours, and comments about "no plot" are made with little knowledge of Virginia Woolf; the plot is the character, and I was as entertained with this movie as any of the other critically hailed films this year.
Hours spent making choices in a search for love
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 01/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Three women. Three different time periods. Three different situations. But yet, in some way, all are linked to the Virginia Woolf novel, "Mrs. Dalloway". Each woman wakes up one morning with the anticipation of some sort of party. There's Virginia Woolf herself in 1923, whose creativity as well as mental illness is apparent. She's frustrated at her forced seclusion from the London she loves and is making time for her sister's visit. There's Clarissa Vaughn, a middle-aged New York woman who is having a party for a good friend and former lover who is dying of AIDS. And there's Julianne Moore as Laura Brown, a 1951 housewife who is planning on baking a cake for her husband's birthday. Michael Cunningham linked all this together in the small masterpiece of a novel. And the screenwriter, David Hare did nothing less than a brilliant job in adapting it to the screen. I just finished reading the book and so I was particularly sensitive to the small changes, such as eliminating some of the minor characters. But the rather introspective and sad tone of the book is still there. And the characters spring to life in the kind of performances that will surely garner them all academy award nominations.Nicole Kidman is cast as Virginia Woolf. I was surprised at that because I think of her as a glamour queen. However, for this role she wears a prosthetic nose, and her makeup gives her a sallow appearance. She comes across as dowdy and homely and slightly insane. And her acting is so good that I thought I was seeing the actual Virginia Woolf on the screen. Meryl Streep is Clarissa Vaughn. She's living with her own set of life regrets. There's sadness beneath her veneer of the perfect hostess planning a party, and it's not a surprise when she lets it come out. And then there is Julianne Moore cast as Laura Brown, all alone in her despondency even though she seems to have a perfect life. Ed Harris is cast as the AIDS patient who is also going mad. They, and the rest of the cast are some of the best actors in the business, and it really shows. The cinematography and sets are also outstanding and the shifts between the three stories are seamless. There will be a gesture in one scene that is picked up in the next and this kind of overlapping editing keeps the story flowing. There's a theme of suicide throughout. And bisexuality. Mostly, though its about the our need for love and the choices we make about how to spend our hours. Much of the story is painful. But yet, its theme is universal. Highly recommended."
Some Random Thoughts from a Twisted Mind
Only-A-Child | 06/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Hours" more than lives up to its critical praise. If nothing else it is a must see for the originality of the technique. The film (and the book by Michael Cunningham) is structured around the process of linking up three stories set at different points in time. Each story concerns a woman trying to define herself, to identify what she needs, and to find a way to get it.
The 1920's story concerns Virginia Woolf's (Kidman) efforts to write her first successful novel, "Mrs. Dallaway"; which is the story of one day in the life of a woman named Clarissa Dallaway. The story set in the early 1950's concerns a Laura Brown (Moore) who is reading "Mrs. Dallaway". Finally the contemporary story concerns Clarissa Vaughn (Streep) who is essentially living Mrs. Dallaway's life in modern NYC. All three performances are extraordinary in their own unique ways and there are wonderful performances from all members of the supporting cast. It is as if each member of the ensemble brought out the best in each other.
Some interesting and not always obvious things to look for as you watch "The Hours" are:
Each story begins with the husband/lover of each woman leading the camera to the woman. All three women are found in bed and this begins a match cut process that will repeat itself throughout the film as the director and editor work to connect and unify the three separate stories. Woolf writes: "Mrs. Dallaway said she would buy the flowers herself" just as Laura Brown reads that sentence and Clarissa speaks that sentence.
Kidman's Woolf is an amazing character. She is a psychological mess, making life difficult for those around her and full of torment and despair. Yet she has a subtle charm that helps you to understand why people found her fascinating.
Like "The Big Chill", this is an ambitious character study film with many characters. By necessity, both films rely more on behavioral language than dialogue in revealing the personality of its characters. Note Laura Brown's (Moore) neatness obsession as she readies her house and herself prior to leaving for the hotel.
Woolf began the book "Mrs. Dallaway" with the intention of basing it on a society woman she knew who unexpectedly committed suicide. Brown describes the book to her neighbor as: "Oh, it's about this woman who's incredibly - well, she's a hostess and she's incredibly confident and she's going to give a party. And, maybe because she's confident, everyone thinks she's fine... but she isn't".
At its core this is a movie about art but it is a broad definition of art, writing a book-baking a cake-giving a party. Each woman/artist is driven and frustrated by a need for unattainable perfection. There is a touch of irony to each situation. For example, Laura Brown is where she is because her husband has pulled her into the great American dream without realizing that it was the worse thing he could do to her. Although all three women love their children/child/niece, those relationships do not give them what they need.
There is a visitor and a kiss in each story central to the self-definition process each woman is going through. Virginia kisses her sister Vanessa (brilliantly played by Miranda Richardson who looks amazingly like she could have been Kidman's sister), desperately trying to force a better connection with her. Vanessa understands this, she is not shocked by the kiss but by the implication that her sister needs this so desperately.
Sophie Wyburd who plays Virginia's young niece was obviously cast for her haunting voice and her ability to display such a focused intensity. Each woman has a child picking up on their needs, which the adults around them do not seem to be aware of.
Watch the scene where Laura's husband is urging her to come to bed. Moore's voice does not betray the revulsion or the internal struggle which only viewers can see on her face. In fact at this point each woman's partner is urging her to go to bed but each must first a make choice. Then watch for the great match cut, Virginia announces that she has decided that the poet will die in her novel and they cut to little Richard lying in his bed. Moore's expression finally tells us that she has decided to leave her family. Streep's kiss signifies her recognition of the preciousness of what she still has in her life and her choice to embrace it and move forward.
Ultimately this film is about the increasing difficulty we have as we get older in making choices. This is because as we discover who we are, we also experience loss and accumulate grief over the course of our lives, becoming ever more aware of the cost of our choices. Like the Moonlight Graham character in "Field of Dreams" (who assumed he would have more than one major league at bat), Clarissa looks back on a short moment that she thought was the beginning of happiness and realizes that it was her only moment of actual happiness.
There are some criticisms of this film. That it is not political enough but rather is for the elite and about the elite, or conversely that it is condescending to the masses with too obvious a message told in an unnecessarily simplistic way, and finally that it is a success of structure rather than ideas. Whatever the validity of these issues, the very fact that discussions are at this elevated level is the best testimonial the film could have. My only criticism was a production design issue (young Richard gets his Lincoln logs out of a Erector Set box).
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
Kidman, Moore, and Streep give tour de force performances!!
Nicholas Williams | Memphis, TN United States | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To me, the premise of "The Hours" was a little intimidating to me before I finally managed to see the film: Three women are linked through three time periods to Virginia Woolf's novel 'Mrs. Dalloway'. I was concerned that my blazing ignorance to Ms. Woolf's work, and this one in particular, would hinder my enjoyment of the film and my ability to understand it. Not so. Yes, 'Mrs. Dalloway' was at the root of the three stories presented, but everything you need to know is in the film. This is it, basically: Mrs. Dalloway decides one morning -- the morning of a party she is throwing -- that she will buy the flowers herself. Though she projects the appearance of togetherness and cheer, she is a lonely, empty woman inside. Oh, and someone dies at the end. That's it.In "The Hours", we meet three women. First is Virginia herself (Nicole Kidman), and our introduction comes in the form of her 1941 suicide at the age of 59. A feminist Ophelia, she places a stone in her dress pocket, walks to a nearby stream, and lets it carry her away. Her brief, mortal stroll is voiced-over by her suicide letter, which explains to her husband that this act of desperation is to spare him the madness she feels is returning. The rest of her story takes place in 1923 as 'Mrs. Dalloway' is working its way out of her. Flashing forward to 1951, we see Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), depressed housewife of WWII veteran Dan (John C. Reilly) and mother of a young son. It's Dan's birthday, and Laura, in the middle of reading 'Mrs. Dalloway', decides that she will feel better today and bake a cake. Cut to 2001, and publisher Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is preparing a reception for author and friend (and long-ago lover) Richard (Ed Harris). Richard has just won a prestigious poetry award but is too ill from AIDS and related dementia to want to go to the party.Each of these women are depressed. Each awakes and acquires flowers. Each has something special going on that day -- a party of sorts. Each of these women kisses another woman. They all face suicide, and they all face the choice between death and the imprisonment of life. They each make a choice. The variations on these choices, while sometimes disorienting, are exactingly faithful to each other. Sometimes they reveal themselves suddenly, consecutively. Other times they surface gradually, inconspicuously. Like Philip Glass' subtle, driving score, they build gracefully from a whisper into a cry and by film's end find themselves whispering again."The Hours" is a miracle of a movie. Literate, involving, active -- it is that rare film about women and their unique experiences that neither excludes nor condemns the role of men in their lives. The men of "The Hours", Woolf' stoic and supportive husband (Stephen Dillane), Brown's husband and son, poet Richard, and his former lover Louis (Jeff Daniels) -- the sexual politics of the film are sometimes scattered but fascinating -- are innocent bystanders who, while making decisions to maintain or find their own happiness, neither victims nor devalue these unhappy women. Their depressions are unto themselves, and their lives entrap them in ways that their respective others cannot assist or understand.All of the performances in "The Hours" are excellent, uniquely extraordinary, and utterly unforgettable. Ms. Kidman, unrecognizable behind a prosthetic nose, does more refined work here than I have ever seen from her. Her Woolf is depressed but never pitiful and always strong whatever the hardship. Ms. Moore, playing a very different '50s housewife from her "Far From Heaven" turn, gets it just right. In the midst of true depression, something as simple as baking a cake becomes an overwhelming, impossible task. Moore's battle with the cake is heartbreakingly sorrowful when she fails, yet somehow sadder when she gets it right. Ms. Streep, meanwhile, shows us again why she is Streep -- equally profound unraveling before the party and, in a devastating scene at the end, as she just listens to a voice from the past that puts things into perspective.Sad, but never far from hope, "The Hours" not only also has an outstanding supporting cast (including Claire Danes, Allison Janney, Miranda Richardson) and superb direction from Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot"), it is also one of the finest films of 2003 and of recent memory. A great DVD must-own for any Nicole Kidman fan, any Julianne Moore fan, or even any Meryl Streep fan!"