A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.
Richard E. Grant
In 1951, Laura Brown, a pregnant housewife, is planning a party for her husband, but she can't stop reading the novel 'Mrs. Dalloway'. Clarissa Vaughn, a modern woman living in present times is throwing a party for her friend Richard, a famous author dying of AIDS. These two stories are simultaneously linked to the work and life of Virginia Woolf, who's writing the novel mentioned before. Written by
Jonas Reinartz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Laura (in 1951) picks up Mrs. Dalloway from the floor next to her bed, there are six novels in total. Two of the other books are Melbourne by Lord David Cecil and Under the Net by Dame Iris Murdoch, both published in 1954. See more »
[Narrating the letter]
Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel I can't go through another one of these terrible times and I shant recover this time. I begin to hear voices and can't concentrate. So, I am doing what seems to be the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I know that I am spoiling your life and without me you could work and you will, I know. You see I can't even write ...
See more »
"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 Laura Brown (Moore), a woman 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
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, making us 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
204 of 241 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?