View Full Version : Hours

John DeSando
12-29-2002, 12:40 PM
I vote we award Oscars to the three female leads of “The Hours” and move on to the next year’s balloting. Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer of the same name, David Hare’s adaptation, and Stephen Daldry’s direction bring enough pedigree to the project, but these performances are the equal of those masters.

Meryl Streep plays a literary editor in contemporary New York, Julianne Moore is a 1951 Los Angeles housewife heading for suicide, and Nicole Kidman with a large nose plays Virginia Woolf in 1923 England. Woolf’s dark novel, “Mrs. Dalloway,” and Woolf’s suicide connect all. While the novel was for me sometimes awkward in its transitions from woman to woman, Daldry’s smooth direction (remember his remarkable “Billy Elliott”), and the strong females made every action and period shift understandable.

It also helps to have Phillip Glass (“Naqoyqatsi” and “Koyaanisqatsi”) in charge of the score. His spare instrumentation is, of course, present, and he comes closer than ever to paralleling the action, interpreting it if you will, with a consistency and power that also helps us to process the D.W. Griffith-type cross-cutting through the years.

Helping to keep the tripartite construction in check besides the Woolf novel and the music is the fact that each woman is in crisis, each seeming to be detached from ordinary life, each wondering if she fits in this world. This is heady stuff usually the province of long-take Europeans: Daldry lingers intimately on the actresses’ faces so we can savor their immense sadness and beauty.

“The Hours” is a Sapphic symphony of women who are inclined to kiss each other in ways they don’t kiss their husbands, of women who have not found happiness but are not reluctant to chuck it all for the unknown. They are magnetized by Virginia Woolf’s daring life and romantic disconnection. Enacted by consummate actresses, this film is my vote for best of whatever year it wants. It’s good, I mean, it’s very good.

12-29-2002, 12:49 PM
Cant wait to see this one!

12-29-2002, 11:15 PM
Saw this wonderful film this afternoon and was not let down as I usually am when too much hype surrounds a release. This is a great film on every level, and brought to mind those times when you're viewing a film you know is an instant classic along the lines of "Sophie's Choice" and other similar films.

Something not being mentioned in general reviews is how strong the supporting cast is -- every bit of casting is perfect, including Claire Danes as the Meryl Streep character's daughter, Stephen Dillane as Leonard Woolf, Jeff Daniels, and even young Jack Rovello, cast as Julianne Moore's "son". Perhaps Ed Harris, cast as ex-lover Richard, will finally receive a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award (the one that escaped him for "Pollock") -- he's excellent here.

In short, this is Nicole Kidman's film and her finest performance -- she disappears into the spirit and role of Virginia Woolf, taking her place among great actresses like Streep, Taylor, and other preceeding her. Her performance is the product of acting ability and should earn her a "Best Actress" nomination and Academy Award next year.

"The Hours" is simply one of the year's best films, and the Oscar race is on.....

01-04-2003, 03:57 AM
I can't wait for this film to arrive here. The comments here have gotten me even more interested. A dream cast if you ask me..

Nicole Kidman is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. I agree- give her a damn oscar. What pray tell does she have to do to get respect? Girl can ACT.

I think working with Kubrick made her a changed artist.

01-04-2003, 04:51 AM
THE HOURS is emo porn.

Ed Harris reminded me of Brundle Fly.

Chris Knipp
01-13-2003, 01:22 AM
Pity the poor actors. Their work is so good in Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours.” Julienne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Dellane, John C. Reilly, all do capable, in some cases magnificent work in the three separate, intercut stories the movie tells. But they have no power over the construction of which they are each a part nor of the effect of falsity it creates.

What the devil do these three stories have to do with each other? That was the question that nagged me when I read Michael Cunningham’s gracefully written, but thin and contrived book. It’s not necessarily true by any means that three stories alternating through the course of a novel make for a richer mix than a single continuous story.

Let’s look at these three separate stories. All three main characters have something important to do with Virginia Woolf’s novel, “Mrs. Dalloway.” Virginia Woolf sure does: she wrote it. But so what? A woman who’s called “Mrs. Dalloway” –after the novel, by a literary friend dying of AIDS, is preparing a party in honor of that friend, who spoils the party by committing suicide, while Virginia Woolf, who wrote the novel in question, committed suicide several decades after the day when she began writing it. Another woman, who happens to be reading the same book (what a coincidence!) at a time between Virginia Woolf’s death and the suicide of the man with AIDS, is also contemplating suicide, but rejects the idea. She turns out to be the mother of the guy with AIDS. (Isn’t that a surprise!) Daldry’s movie fleshes out the thin stories of Cunningham’s novel, but is fatally faithful to the artificial scheme of it.

If there is some kind of magical synchronicity about these three tales in the novel or the film I have failed to grasp it either time. Artifical links have been manufactured to flesh out a connection between three stories that separately wouldn’t be rich enough for a novel.

The contrivance of this isn’t going to register with a lot of people, because they’ll be mesmerized by all the buttons the movie pushes. We’ve got a kindly lesbian, a man dying of AIDS, a proto-feminist famous English writer. We’ve got depression; we’ve got suicides galore. It’s all so sad and sensitive and literary—and we get to pity people in the Fifties again, as in “Far From Heaven,” for being such naïve repressed dorks. And we’ve got a bouquet of fine actresses: Streep in a rich performance, Moore in the Fifties schtick she does so well, and Kidman hiding quite successfully—rather intriguingly, in fact-- behind a putty nose. We’ve got a lively bunch of Brits and we’ve got Ed Harris stealing scenes with a strained “performance” that screams Oscar! How can you knock a man with AIDS—or an actor working as hard as Ed Harris?

Elegant though Daldry’s production is, it hits us over the head with its themes compared to the relatively subtle, if wan, effects of the novel. Not all directors have Hitchcock’s condescending attitude---“I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle”---but actors, however good, are the victims of the film they’re in. Look at Adrien Brody, whose brilliance and awesome dedication can finally be seen in Polanski’s “The Pianist,” but who was all but edited out of Terrence Malick’s“Thin Red Line.”

I don’t buy that “The Hours” is a great film. It’s well acted (in parts) and has a glossy look. It’s the “Beautiful Mind” of the year, because the audience again is getting conned into believing something manipulative and false is high art—or at least a great movie. It’s not. But you have to go and see it to find out what all the hoopla is about.