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THE HOURS ,2002
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THE HOURSTHE HOURS, 2002
Movie Reviews

Directed by Stephen Daldry

Starring: Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Stephen Dillane, Ed Harris, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Meryl Streep
Review by Artie Kamp


SYNOPSIS:

This film follows 3 women from three different eras, the three of them sharing common ground in links to the novel Mrs Dalloway. Firstly Virginia Woolf, writer of Mrs Dalloway; the film tracks her whilst she is writing the novel in 1923, struggling to cope with her surroundings and mental state. Secondly, Laura Brown in the 1950s, a housewife and mother who when reading Mrs Dalloway begins to sink in to a state of depression, struggling between choosing either her children or her sanity. Thirdly, Clarissa Vaughan in 2001, the modern day “Mrs Dalloway” (as nicknamed by an ex love of hers who is dying of AIDS) obsessed with organizing parties to distract herself from aspects of her own life. The film follows these three women as they are challenged by their own states of mind, each enduring moments of realisation that spur them to take action, changing their lives in dramatic ways.

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REVIEW:

The Hours is one of the best cast films of all time. Nicole Kidman (who is barely recognisable with her fake nose) won the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for her role in this film as Virginia Woolf, the writer of the famous novel Mrs Dalloway; and the films other actresses - Julianne Moore who plays Laura Brown, the 1950s housewife, and Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan, were also nominated for many other awards. Ed Harris, who plays Clarissa’s ex love Richard, also puts in a nothing short of outstanding performance as a man who is haunted by memories of his childhood and is dying of AIDS.

The film draws on many aspects of the struggles of life including happiness (questioning what this is), death (and what this “achieves”) and denial of one’s own surroundings and feelings, all of which are dealt with in a completely honest and realistic manner. Most apparent is how the film deals with each of the women’s own trials and tribulations. For Virginia it is the struggle with her mental instability and being forced to live in small town (that she despises) for “her own good”. For Laura it’s the sheer unhappiness with the stifled role of housewife and mother she has found herself trapped in, and the worry of not living up to other people’s expectations concerning these roles. For Clarissa it is confronting her own fears over Richard’s illness that she has previously been in denial about, and trying to make sense of her own feelings towards him.

The way that the film is edited brings the three separate stories of these three women together; cutting from one of them to another, showing simple actions such as styling their hair in similar fashions or simply exhaling, straight after each another. This encourages the viewer to see the similarities between these women and link the three individual stories. Later on in the film it becomes apparent that the two stories concerning Laura Brown and Clarissa Vaughn are physically connected in that Laura is in fact the mother of Richard (Clarissa’s close friend and ex-love).

In much of the film a single look from one of the characters says much more than anything that could ever be spoken. A great example of this is when it is revealed that Laura Brown is Richard’s mother who abandoned him when he was a child. Solely through showing him holding a picture of her on her wedding day and the close-up on his face with tears in his eyes, instantly draws the two story’s together and at the same time communicates to the viewer everything that Richard feels about the circumstances and understand his sorrow.

Some may find the film a little on the depressing side, failing to provide the perfect happy ending or get anywhere near to solving any of the characters problems, but this is what I think is great about the film. It reflects real life - not everything having a solution that pleases everyone, or even having a solution at all.

This film is faultless in every aspect of its production, a modern great.


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