View Full Version : The Hours

03-08-2003, 01:17 AM
Three loosely related stories dealing with varying degrees of depression are handled with exactly the same relentlessly somber tone in Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s novel (unread by this reviewer). Each story takes place in one day during different eras: the first deals with Virginia Woolf (a very fine Nicole Kidman who keeps an appropriate distance) in 1923 as she works on “Mrs. Dalloway”, the novel that serves as the film’s framework; another, taking place in 1951, deals with a young, pregnant housewife (Julianne Moore, a bit too mannered) whose husband (John C. Reilly) is oblivious to the struggle that is keenly observed by her young son; the third is set in modern times as a woman (Meryl Streep) tends to her AIDS-stricken ex-lover (Ed Harris) for whom she is planning a party to celebrate a major award for his poetry. Daldry directs with too much limp sensitivity and restraint; for much of the running time, it’s flat and frustrating, forcing you to pick your spots of interest while subjecting you to long stretches of monotony. But Daldry and screenwriter David Hare find their way to a graceful conclusion, with its eloquent thoughts about happiness and a subtle yet dignified case for suicide. The powerhouse cast also includes Toni Collette, Stephen Dillane, Claire Danes and Jeff Daniels, convincing in a brief role as another of Harris’ ex-lovers. The score is by Philip Glass and it’s one of his most accessible works, to the point of being overdramatic.