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Well, if the sign of a work of art is the heated debate, love, and antipathy it inspires, then "The Hours" is a great work of art. I will say no more about why I loved it. I just want to remark about comments made about the film that seem pretty irrelevant to me. (1) Nicole Kidman's nose: I have only one thing to say here: "Get over it!" (2) Philip Glass' score: This was a beautiful tense piano score done by a fine composer. Remember the score in "Kundun", everybody?? (3) Last, but surely not least, the comment that this is a movie for "women and effeminate men": This comment I could not believe when I actually read it here. "Effeminate men"???!!! I haven't heard that term in decades. And who are they anyway? Well, we all know what was meant. So, I ask: Is our homophobia showing, guys? Movies in which women and gay men are characters are about people who have the same issues that everyone else does. Amen and get over it.
Forget the much-discussed prosthetic nose she dons to play the part of Virginia Woolf. Nicole Kidman's bravura performance in the masterful new drama THE HOURS transcends tangible transformation. The striking, leggy and elegant poise we have come to expect from the actress is not only lost in a completely new gait but her voice is absolutely unrecognizable as well. It is shrouded in a thick, foggy British accent. She really utilizes everything in her power to manifest the inner anguish and torment that Woolf suffers. Watch this film for Nicole's transformation if for nothing else; she has clearly transformed ever since her divorce--into the best, less predictable actress of her generation!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought `The Hours' was to be one of those artsy, 45-year-old woman
whose previews announce: `These are the lives of three women.etc. etc.
and usually involves a bunch of weepy, depressed characters unfulfilled
their existence. Well, it was. Except in this movie, they were weepy,
depressed characters unfulfilled in their existence.and lesbian.
So, to quote Sarah Warn, `if someone had told me even a few years ago that Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Allison Janney and Julianne Moore would all play lesbian or bisexual women in a movie that would generate rave critical reviews and be the frontrunner for the Oscars...I'd have asked if them if they wanted an extra pipe with that crack.' Couldn't have said it better myself. Of course, it fails to mention that it would be one of those movies that leaves you stretched, emotional, and slightly confused-even though you aren't quite sure why. The plot is simple-a rather depressed and certainly prescription drug-needy Virginia Woolf (Kidman), writes a novel that provides a common thread with the other two women: Laura (Moore), a suicidal, repressed housewife, and Clarissa (Streep), a phony, I-have-it-all-together New York book editor who's still gaga over her bisexual ex-lover, Richard (Ed Harris), who is dying of AIDS (in case the suicide attempts and dead bird burials were not sad enough for you), but living with her female lover of ten years, Sally (Allison Janney). All are portrayed grappling with wanting to change their life, facing down their demons, and-gasp!-death. Well, to put it bluntly, this movie stressed me out. I went in there knowing it wasn't the next feel-good movie of the year, but I left wondering whether or not I'd kill myself using pills or by drowning. Since I never liked swimming, I chose pills. Cyanide perhaps. It's quick. Anyways, the point is the movie piled contemplative depression on a little too thick for me, making me thankful I was both sober and not high, for aside from `Dancer in the Dark', it is an ultimate buzz killer. Hell, it killed my sugar buzz from half a Coke. As for the individual portrayals, I cannot say I was sad to see Nicole Kidman drown herself at the start. In fact, I was severely disappointed when I came to the realization it was, in fact, only a movie. One aspect of the movie that did make me happy was the fact that Nicole Kidman was ugly for the whole film. But I digress. Personal dislikes aside, Kidman certainly had to put on hold her real life charm, beauty, and cradle-robbing to effectively portray Woolf; I will admit she did an excellent job of convincing me she was a female author on the edge of insanity and incestuous longing (apparently Woolf and her sister were kind of sketchy in reality). Julianne Moore's character frightened me each time I saw her. I mean, it was understood Woolf was an insane death-consumed person with a wardrobe to match, but the perky 50's housewife turned upside down is scarier. Apparently if you are a married, repressed lesbian-try to avoid baking birthday cakes for your husband (played by that actor that always is cast as the poor dolt husband who's always shat on by his wife), as it will make you want to check into a hotel and kill yourself. Scientifically, the relationship between Laura and her son Richard subtly reinvigorates the whole nature-vs.-nurture argument (at least from my point of view). Did little Richie go to Big Gay Poet Richard because he saw Mommy making out with the equally stressed-out neighbor (Toni Collette, or as I call her, Muriel), or did Laura pass on a `gay gene'? Hmmm? Streep gave the best performance of all with Clarissa, especially when crying in her kitchen (I assumed it was the real estate in New York City that was really unnerving her; such a small place, but I bet it costs a fortune!). I also liked the fact Clarissa interprets `water' as asked for by Richard's ex-lover Louis (Jeff Daniels) to mean lemon Perrier. What is this, Europe? Anyway, the bizarre bisexual love triangle with them and Richard confounded me, as I'm sure it will most of the American public who know little more than `man, woman; penis, vagina; penis goes into vagina.' What I liked about Clarissa was that she was the person most of the audience could identify with, living in 2001 NYC, even though her living arrangements with a lesbian lover and an adopted daughter (Claire Danes) is somewhat atypical. I would also like to add it seemed the woman knew how to throw a wonderful party for Richard, even though a very sickly, AIDS-ridden Ed Harris (talk about disturbing) threw himself out a window. What an ungrateful guest of honor. What a waste of food. She made the crab dish especially for you, you jerk! There are of course other little plot details and twists I am leaving out, but you can experience those for yourself. All in all, I doubt the DVD will be a hot seller, unless you intentionally want to be depressed. If that were the case, I'd say you could better spend your money on some good therapy. And a king-size bottle of Valium. Believe me, it helps.
The Diva scores this movie * * Two stars, one for keeping me interested, the other for having Nicole Kidman sport a huge, ugly schnoz.
What a wonderful movie this is. The score, the direction, the editing....and the acting. This is an actors movie. Better still, a movie about women. There are few good roles for women in Hollywood, but The Hours nearly makes up for that. All three woman have such strong "meaty" roles. They are all brilliant but one star shines brighter then the other two. Nicole Kidman gives the greatest perfromance of her career, of 2002 and one of the best performances of all time. This is the role for which she will be remembered. She is perfect. Right now, it is a fight to the death between Kidman and Moore for the Oscar (Moore in Far From Heaven). I hope Kidman wins. If Moore does, it is only because she is "due". don't get me wrong, Streep and Moore are outstanding. Brilliant. But if I had to choose out of the three.....it's Kidman all the way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An enormous waste of talent in the most Overblown Overrated Picture of
the Year At the 53rd Berlin Film Festival, February, 2003: This morning
the press screening of "THE HOURS" (Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf) in
the Big Hall helped me catch up on some sleep lost partying the night
before. Crashingly expensive BORE and the Kidman role could have been
pulled off by any halfway decent high-school actress. Not that Nicole
was bad, just that the role is zilch anybody can play a zombie with a
false nose. But the other parts of the film. (it's a three part
invention) were even worse. The Ed Harris/Meryl Streep segment could
have been removed totally from the film without missing a beat. Who
wants to watch Ed Harris dying of leprosy on screen as they claim it's
really AIDS ~ and who cares if he left Streep years before for a gay
boyfriend? and now she's living in a lezzy affaire with another woman
whom she kisses repeatedly on the mouth. Do we really need all this
faggoty digression to embellish the theoretical Va. Wolfe biog? -- I
thought this was supposed to be a literary drama, not an excuse for
justifying same sex eroticism. Yaaawwn
The only one of the three parallel stories that held my interest at all, was the LA segment with Julianne Moore as a middle class housewife back in '51, but only because of her because for my money she is the best actress in Hollywood the new Bette Davis! But the overall story line with three extremely dull people building their private lives around the Woolf novel "Mrs. Dalloway" was one long embarrassing bore straining painfully for meaning while falling flat on its face. For me the film was over when Kidman (as Virginia Woolf) went underwater without so much as a blug-blug in the first three minutes of the pre-titles sequence when she commits suicide by calmly walking into a local lake.
The following press conference, with a peculiarly subdued Kidman there, was correspondingly null and void. (She would get an Oscar for it the following month but in Berlin she seemed to sense the lack of press enthusiasm) From the closing Festival press release: "Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore shared best actress honours at the conclusion of the 53rd Berlin Film Festival yesterday for their critically-acclaimed performances in Stephen Daldry's Oscar-nominated literary drama The Hours". This press release merely confirms the fact that so-called "critical acclaim" has little or nothing to do with actual quality and everything to do with industry promotion, also known as gold plated "hype". Ms. Kidman did, in fact, win the 2004 Best Actress Oscar -- literally by a Nose -- Arguably the phoniest nose job and biggest snow job in the history of the Hollywood cinema industry. PS: There is actually a Good little movie about Woolf entitled "Mrs. Dalloway". Check it out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't usually mind slow films as I am aware they need time for the plot to develop, but I conclude that this film is exclusive to people who have read Virginia Woolf's books to make any sense of this. Half way through the film there is still no hint on how these 3 women are linked. Conversations are long and deep and yet I felt like a spectator who does not know what is happening. The Virginia character was miserable and uninspiring and that ridiculous false nose Nicole Kidman was wearing meant I could not take the character seriously. As for Meryl Streep (an actress I usually admire) and her poet friend dying of AIDS - yes very interesting but who the hell are they and what are they to do with all this? Halfway through, with still no idea what was going on, I switched off.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Several years ago a dear, dear friend of mine committed suicide, very
publicly and very violently. Those of us who loved her were, and are,
of course, devastated by her death, and the manner in which it was
conceived, might find some solace and insights for her actions by this
outstanding movie. I did. The film, directed by Stephen Daldry, is a
brilliant adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael
The heart of The Hours is the novel by Virginia Woolfe, Mrs. Dalloway. In preparation for watching The Hours I began to read the novel. Doing so provided some backdrop to the film, but it is certainly not necessary to read the novel to appreciate the magnitude and the dimensions of this film's brilliance. There are touches of that novel that are obvious, like Meryl Streep character's first name of Clarissa, references to flowers, and, of course, death. Kidman's narrative, similar to the stream of consciousness that radiates within the novel, is a little less obvious, but no less effective.
The soul of The Hours are great performances by great actors, including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman (who deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Virginia Woolfe), Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Miranda Richardson, Jeff Daniels, John C. Reilly, and Stephen Dillane. Each one of their performances deserves acclaim after acclaim after acclaim.
There is a simultaneity to the film that underscores its transcendence. The films actions focus on 1923, 1941, 1954 and 2001. What one character does in one decade is similar to what another character does in another decade. I suppose that the choice to include the year 2001 in the film's timeline is not incidental.
The film opens with an accurate account of Virginia Woolfe's actual suicide, which involves walking into a river with rocks in her pocket. Narrated aloud is a haunting love letter to her husband explaining why. It begins with the words, "I'm going mad again."
In addition to Virginia, the film's central characters include Clarissa Vaughn, an editor who once had a love relationship with Rich Brown, a poet dying of AIDS, played by Ed Harris,. Clarissa now lives with, and loves, Sally Lester, played by Allison Janney. Laura Brown, portrayed by Julianne Moore, is a troubled woman who lives the prototypical life of homemaker in the 1950s. Her husband, played by John C. Reilly, loves Laura, but Laura is conflicted about her feelings towards him, and towards her son.
All of the characters I've just mentioned, and those that I haven't, as offered in The Hours, provide a tapestry into the conscience of emotional torment. Outlined in this film is the logical irrationality of suicide.
I must also commend the film's dialog. At one point Ed Harris character states, "No matter what you start with, it ends up being so much less." Streep's Vaughn comments to her former lover, "That is what we do. That is what people do. They stay alive for each other."
My favorite quote came from Virginia Woolfe in that final letter she wrote to her husband, "To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away..."
Can it be that suicide is sometimes, in some way, actually an affirmation of a life lived?
Based on the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by
Michael Cunningham, Stephen Daldry's 'The Hours' is an outstanding
cinematic experience! It's striking screenplay, Daldry's epic direction
and bravura performances make the Hours spent on it worth-while.
About Three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Among them are Clarissa Vaughan played by Streep, a New Yorker preparing an award party for her AIDS-stricken long-time friend and poet, Richard played by Ed Harris, in 2001. Laura Brown played by Moore, a pregnant 1950s California housewife with a young boy and an unhappy marriage. And Virginia Woolf herself played by Kidman, in 1920s England, who is struggling with depression and mental illness whilst trying to write her novel.
Women-Centric films have always caught my attention. The empowerment of this SEX in the adapted screenplay is executed with flourish. David Hare has done complete justice to the screenplay.
Stephen Daldry is a genius. Converting a fine Novel into a Film, is a big, big, challenge and Daldry executes each scene with remarkable understanding. 'The Hours' is undoubtedly, Daldry's finest work to date.
Now to the performances! Each and Every Actor shines in this all-starrer. Julianne Moore is like never before. She gets the most difficult character among all the other characters, and shines the brightest as well. Her performance in one word - legendary. Nicole Kidman is terrific, no doubts on that! But, it's even her complete make-up that helps her get into the skin the character. Meryl Streep, as always, is effective. Ed Harris proves his caliber as an actor, yet again! He appears only in 2-scenes, but he remains with you throughout, and even, after the show has concluded. Jeff Daniels in a cameo, is superb. Stephen Dillane as Kidman's husband, is very good. John C. Reilly is decent.
On the whole, A Must See Film! Amongst the Best Films of the early 2000's, or maybe, or all-times! Two Big Thumbs Up!
You may miss some of the nuances in this well-written film and after
seeing it a few times will appreciate the affect of Clarissa Vaughn
(perfectly portrayed by Streep) a woman at wits end though not sure,
what is to become of her friend Richard (Ed Harris) and what he is
intending after he wins the ultimate prize for his poetry.
The Julianne Moore character, a woman in the 1950's also at a loss when it comes to the existential meaning of her life. The scenes with her young son as he watches her make a birthday cake for Daddy are particularly effective and sad.
Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, a woman before her time, talented and mentally frail, coming apart in her ordered world, controlled by the husband who publishes her books, he does all this for her, he says, but it seems a form of control nevertheless.
Each story has cadence and sadness for any woman, the stories in and of themselves are insightful and real. The music by Philip Glass is at times intrusive and just too much, we don't need the sound to punctuate the importance of each reflection of character.
Great story about three women in three different epochs. All of them are in desperate search for happiness, but steady visions of happiness do not give them pleasure so they are looking for the exit from the emotional crisis. The first one, famous writer, Virginia Wolf suffers because of the life on the village and misunderstand by her husband for her needs. The second one is Laura Brown, housewife who is unhappy despite living peaceful life with her husband and son. The third is a lesbian Clarissa that looks his best friend dieing from AIDS. And he was the only person she ever truly loved. My favorite movie. Masterpiece !!!
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