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Some Random Thoughts from a Twisted Mind
aimless-469 June 2005
"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 that sentence.

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 box.
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compelling tale of depression
Roland E. Zwick27 January 2003
The first thing that may strike you about `The Hours' is that this film features more major characters who are gay, or at least bisexual, than any mainstream movie I can think of. Based on the novel by Michael Cunningham, this is the powerful story of three women from three different time periods who have one thing in common: they are all leading lives filled with depression, despondency and despair, not because they are gay, mind you, but because they are human.

First there is the famous early 20th Century author Virginia Woolf (played by Nicole Kidman), who is doing daily battle with her own mental illness, a disease that is slowly destroying her own life and the lives of those around her. The story picks up her life at the time right after she has been released from an institution and been sent to spend a quiet, uneventful and restful time convalescing in the country with her husband. It is here that she begins writing her famous novel `Mrs. Dalloway,' an introspective tale of a woman who comes to realize that her well-ordered life is really just a collection of meaningless routines meaninglessly performed. This novel serves as the glue that binds together the three women of the story as they, too, come to see their own lives in this way. Julianne Moore is Laura Brown, a housewife living in the 1950's, who finds her domestic existence to be as much a prison as Virginia Woolf finds her life in the secluded countryside. Despite the fact that she has a husband and a child who clearly adore her, Laura struggles with the fact that she is unable to find the fulfillment she seeks out of life in the role of wife and mother which society has decreed for her. This leads her to a feeling of perpetual ennui and depression and even to the notion of ending it all through suicide (suicide is, in fact one of the major motifs of the work). This role provides an interesting counterpoint to Moore's character in `Far From Heaven.' In both films she is a woman attempting to cope with the stifling nature of life for a typical housewife in the 1950's, yet in the other film, SHE is the one devastated to discover that her husband is a closet homosexual, while, in this film, she herself is the one harboring secret lesbian feelings. This, of course, strengthens the parallels with Virginia Woolf, since she too had love affairs with women. The third character is a contemporary woman played by Meryl Streep. Like the fictional character Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Vaughn is a woman whose life appears to others to be well ordered and fulfilling, yet she realizes that it is really a life built around meaningless triviality. Clarissa has a lesbian partner of ten years, yet the spark of love between them seems to have gone out. Clarissa spends most of her time regretting the loss of her one true love, the troubled poet, Richard Brown (Ed Harris), a gay man struggling with the final stages of AIDS, who wants nothing more than to rant against the injustice of his fate.

Cunningham's story is, obviously, a symphony of despair. In fact, I haven't seen this many depressed people in one film since Ingmar Bergman passed from the filmmaking scene some twenty odd years ago. Yet, `The Hours' isn't really a depressing film because the artistry used to tell the tale elevates it to the realm of poetry. David Hare's screenplay does a beautiful job weaving in and out of the three different time periods, finding effective transitions that link the various women and their situations. Director Stephen Daldry establishes a lyrical, melancholic mood that draws us into this world of sadness and regret. He also, of course, has a veritable who's who of some of the world's top film actors to work with here. Nicole Kidman gives a beautifully controlled, heartbreaking performance as the troubled Ms. Woolf, conveying a veritable cauldron of seething inner emotions through a strangely unchanging, passive and emotionless exterior. Her work here is a model of restraint and discipline, especially given the fact that many other actresses might have used this showy role as an opportunity to `go all out' in a display of thespian overkill. Julianne Moore does the same with her role, also underplaying the emotions her character is experiencing, the better to highlight the sense of stultifying confinement she finds in her life. Streep is allowed a little more leeway in the sense that she alone gets to emote at a higher level, actually raging against the demons that haunt her (as, perhaps, befits a woman living in the 21st Century). Ed Harris does a superb job getting to the core of his character as well. He doesn't have much actual time on screen, but he makes his scenes count for all they're worth.

`The Hours' is, obviously, a movie made for a specialized audience, one not easily scared off by a film with powerful themes and complex characters. In this epic of angst, three superb actresses end up taking us on a journey deep into the darkest recesses of the human soul - a journey that would be pretty much unbearable if they themselves were not there to guide us through it.
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Three Times One
pierlorenzodangelo6 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Nicole Kidman is writing a book, Julianne Moore is reading the book, Meryl Streep is the book. A brilliant conceit by master David Hare, astonishingly performed by Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris, Toni Collette, John C Railly, Allison Janney,Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson Jeff Daniels and Clare Danes, even Eileen Atkins in a tiny, but revelatory moment, as the flower shop owner, is a true standout. Nicole Kidman's Virgina Woolf is a bit of a miracle, specially now, 5 years later, when you can actually look at her without noticing her nose. What you do notice is her thinking, her beautifully torturous battle for sanity - whether conscious or unconscious - "Even crazy people want to be asked!- she blurts at her sister to admonished her for not having been invited to a party. Kidman is truly sensational as is Meryl Streep, although one has come to expect that and that's why Kidman makes the bigger splash. Julianne Moore however, as the depressed perfect mother/wife of the 1950's, took me completely out of the emotional tornado Kidman and Streep consistently nurture and provide. Her performance is a performance and I was painfully aware of the machinery working just behind her eyes. Regardless "The Hours" is a rewarding experience a totally accessible intellectual and emotional ride.
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The Tragedy of Baking a Cake
Brent Trafton9 February 2003
If you have read any of the other reviews on this page, you have probably figured out "The Hours" is not the easy, mainstream film it was made out to be by the ads and the reviews. Starring three of today's most popular leading actresses, winner of some Golden Globe awards, based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, and the recipient of numerous rave reviews; it would seem to be a film that would appeal to a lot of people.

"The Hours" is not a regular Hollywood type of drama film. It has more in common with Ingmar Bergman films than with "Terms of Endearment." I think the thing that most people are having problems with is that the film does not explain what takes place or the significance of the context of what takes place. Things happen and it is up to the viewer to decide what it means. This is a controversial film and people will not only argue about whether or not the film is worthwhile, but they can also debate what exactly takes place during the film. How a person interprets this film says more about the person than the film.

The film follows a single day in the lives of three women in different time periods. During this day, each of them makes a decision that will affect the rest of their life.

I felt the film improved upon the book by bringing more clarity into the decisions of each character. Also, some of the most memorable lines and scenes in the film did not exist in the book.

While I would normally be the last person in the world to say anything positive about Phillip Glass, his score is evocative of the relentlessness of time. This is accentuated by the ticking of the clock throughout the film. The ethereal music also helps tie the three storylines together, to make it seem as if they are happening simultaneously.

I think a lot of people were taken off-guard by this film because they were expecting a more standard type of drama. Also, the PG-13 rating implies a lighter subject matter than is actually in the film. Just as a warning: There is crying, suicide, and women kissing women. Even though the violence and language is mild and there are no sex or nudity in the film, it should have probably been given an R rating because of the extreme emotion displayed in the film. Emotionally unstable people should probably not see this film.

As I said earlier, people will interpret this film differently since things are not spelled out for them. For the record, I did not think all three women were suffering from clinical depression as suggested by some people. Virginia's malaise would seem to fit the description of schizophrenia rather than clinical depression. Clarissa was suffering from regret over a decision she made thirty years previous and the feeling that she will never experience that happiness again. That does not necessarily mean she is clinically depressed. Laura is the depressed one and she makes a decision to handle that depression the way she thinks is best for her. Also, I do not feel Virginia was either incestuous or a lesbian. I think she was expressing her desperation through her disease and it came out in a socially unacceptable manner.

There is no doubt in my mind that "The Hours" is a great film. I only recommend it to people who are up to the challenge of thinking about the film long after they have left the theater and deciding about what it means. It is not a film for everybody but I felt it was worth the effort.
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This Movie Changed My Life
Amanda Kay Kuenzi20 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I know a lot of people criticized this film for various reasons but please do yourself a favor and do not listen to any of it. This movie touches on subjects that deeply affect those who either have struggled with mental illness or have a loved one who has. Everything about this movie resonates with me in a very deep way. When the book was getting popular before this film was ever created I went and bought it and read it. I realized about midway through that this was a book that would probably haunt me the rest of my life. I think I see much of myself in each of these women. Virginia Woolf, creative and thoughtful, deeply depressed and almost comforted by the idea of death. Laura Brown, trapped and terrified of her own existence. Clarissa Vauhn, always looking for a trivial distraction, a quiet storm brewing underneath the surface. Everyone questions the meaning of life and the value of life. Everyone thinks about happiness, and remembers the moment they were happiest. These are all mortal realities. Thoughts that plague even the strongest of individuals. Suicide sometimes seems like an inevitable fate, and even a comforting solution. The moment when you meet Laura Brown at the end of the film as an old woman, you think she is going to be this broken and sad person full of regrets but she isn't. You realize that out of all three women she was the one that ultimately chose life. After speaking with Clarissa, you can tell that Clarissa finally understands that sometimes regret is just a word that means nothing. How can you regret when you didn't have a choice? It was either death or leave. Many times in my life I have felt this way. I have left my hometown without saying goodbye to anyone and moved three thousand miles away. I felt trapped, suffocated and very dangerously depressed. When I got to my final destination I felt so free. I could write for days about this movie and it wouldn't do this film justice. If you are a woman and you struggle with mental illness do yourself a favor and watch The Hours. It will give you perspective and comfort. Life isn't always beautiful and sometimes someone has to die to create contrast so that the rest of us value life. It humbles us to see someone take their own life, it makes us squeeze our children a little tighter, makes us sing a little louder, makes us love a little deeper. When Richard dies at the end of the film, you think Clarissa will fall apart and when she doesn't, and you watch this woman in shock somehow come back to life you realize that this man has been holding her back from really enjoying life. His sadness was almost an anchor for her and when he disappears it almost releases her from this darkness that surrounded him. You realize that he really was only sticking around for her. She watches him jump and it's almost like a relief to her. The darkness goes with him. One of the best scenes of the film is almost at the very end. Meryl Streep so passionately kisses her partner. It's beautiful. You can tell she is choosing life. She wants to feel that happiness she once felt again. This movie changed my life. I will never be the same.
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Provocative and Hopeful
rodmans54515 April 2003
Boasting an exemplary cast, purposeful direction, authentic production values, and a haunting musical score, The Hours is a sincere praiseworthy attempt to adapt Michael Cunningham's prize-winning novel to the screen. It is provocative, introspective, hopeful, and at times downright desolate. As evidenced by the opening sequence, the value of life itself is called into question and it sets the tone for the rest of the film.

The complex storyline focuses on one day in the lives of three women from three different generations. Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is living outside of London with her husband in 1923, recovering from mental illness and beginning work on her now famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is a 1950's suburban housewife, married to a World War II veteran (John C. Reilly), raising a small boy while expecting another child. And then there is Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), a present-day version of Mrs. Dalloway, so named by her one-time lover and now AIDS-stricken writer Richard (Ed Harris), living in New York and planning one of her renowned parties for him following his reception of a prestigious poetry award.

Yet there is a common thread among them that effaces any 'real' normalcy in their lives and ultimately forces each of them to make life-altering decisions. Themes revolving around feminism and sexual preference stir just below the surface. But it is the prevailing sadness of these women brought on by the confinements of a restrictive and often stifling society that is at the core of this film. Their yearning for something more or for that 'one perfect moment' in time places each of them in the painful position to question their own existence. The sequences in each of their lives are carefully interwoven throughout the movie, enhancing their parallel struggles.

The Hours is skillfully directed by Stephen Daldry and contains some of the finest performances of the year. Julianne Moore's depiction of Laura Brown is filled with subtlety and nuance. She epitomizes a 1950's housewife with a constant shiny exterior who can barely contain the internal struggle of her life's claustrophobic confinements. Meryl Streep's Clarissa Vaughn, though bound by memories of her past, is somewhat less restricted in her character as a modern New York editor living with her female lover and therefore has more opportunity to display her considerable emotional range.

However it is Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Virginia Woolf that is the most mesmerizing and transforming performance in the film. She is completely submerged as the famous novelist of the early twentieth century. The hype concerning Kidman's prosthetic proboscis and its alleged distraction is much ado about nothing. To the contrary, it enhances her performance and allows her characterization of Virginia Woolf to fully emerge. Audiences will not recognize her, nor should they.

But if it is familiar players and plotlines you are seeking then The Hours is not for you. It is neither fantasy nor escapism, yet what it lacks in pure entertainment it makes up for with introspection and a somewhat hopeful ending.
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Mrs Dalloway goes out to buy flowers
lou-5018 January 2003
"The Hours" is about time - time we have left to make our lives enjoyable or to spend it in misery. It features the lives of three women, which might explain why half the film-goers (the males) might not want to see it and why it was left out of Ebert and Roeper's Top 10 films. If that perception is true, that would be a shame. "The Hours" is a wonderfully crafted film about universal themes of life and death, suppression and freedom, and unresolved love. That it is told from the viewpoint of three women should not diminish any of its appeal. Virginia Woolf must combat her life long mental affliction even as husband Leonard tries to manage her condition. Using the novel, 'Mrs Dalloway', the film conveys the heartache of isolation and forlorn lives in two other women who are directly connected to the book. In 1951, we meet Laura and Dan who, with their young son, would seem an ideal family. But Laura yearns for freedom, much as Mrs. Dalloway, and she must choose between giving up her family or dying. Move to 2001, and there is yet another Mrs. Dalloway in Claire and her dogged responsibility toward her former lover, Richard, now dying of AIDS. The themes of liberation, lesbianism, and dying enthrall all three women, and one does die in order that those around her might value even more the living. You cannot find three better actresses to portray these very complex individuals, in Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman, any or all should be nominated for Oscars. An equally fine supporting cast of Ed Harris, John Reilly, Stephen Dillane, Claire Danes, and Allison Janey make "The Hours" one of the most interesting and intelligent melodramas to come along in a while.
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Best Movie of 2002.
MCrulzLiron1 January 2003
"The Hours" was the first movie I've seen in 2003. I'm easily going to name it as the best movie of 2002 and something tells me that in 12 months time, I will be saying it's one of the best movies of 2003 as well.

Based on a Michael Cunningham novel, "The Hours" combines a real life story (Virginia Woolf), a re-written one (Laura Brown's interpretation of "Mrs. Dalloway") and an original creation as well (Clarissa Vaughn).

We get three different stories, each fascinating on its own edited together into a complex, intriguing drama that will have you in tears a couple of times before the ending credits start rolling.

What glues the stories together is "Mrs. Dalloway" - the book. Virginia Woolf, a suicidal author in England (1923) creates the character, the novel inspires a lonely housewife in Los Angeles (1951) and a 'trivial' 2001 New York City gay woman is called "Mrs. Dalloway" by her dying friend who points out the similarities between them. Later on, we find out another connection between the characters.

It's clear that the thoughts that have been put into this movie go beyond the screenplay and acting. Things like the settings & clothing for each story help compile a perfect, believable plot.

However, what really left me with awe was the PHENOMENAL acting.

Nicole Kidman (with the word "Oscar" stamped on her forehead) delivers a performance of a lifetime playing a rather difficult role while disguising everything that is usually so associated with her. With a fake nose, a cold, dark and distant attitude and above all a rough change to her voice, Kidman portrays Mrs. Woolf exactly as the writers wanted us to grasp her and manages to be the most outstanding of the three despite getting the least screen time. Absolutely amazing.

Meryl Streep (C. Vaughn, 2001) and Julianne Moore (L. Brown, 1951) give impressive lead performances themselves with memorable emotional scenes. Cameo appearances by Ed Harris, Claire Danse, John C. Riley, Alison Janney & Toni Collette all support this exquisite masterpiece.

MUST SEE. 10/10
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Best film on the shelves, when I asked....
Keith G22 October 2004
When I asked him about this one, the young chap in the video rental shop said it was just about the best film on the shelves at the time. I had no idea about it whatsoever and just went with his recommendation. He wasn't wrong - it is impossible to fault at any level: Acting, dialogue, costumes, locations, soundtrack, scenery, settings or storyline.

Films like this don't come along too often - beautifully made in an almost understated way, it relates to no major event or cataclysm, it chronicles no turning-point in history and it poses no worrying conundrum for the future. It is simply a quietly-told story that will criss-cross between various points in time and take you deep into the characters' emotions and portray the effect that they have on their lives. When you have seen and come to understand the events that take place, by the time it concludes it will leave you feeling refreshed and perhaps a little better in touch with the emotions in your own life - just like good films should, but sadly, so rarely do...

Easily 9 out of 10 - If you watch this one, you will not regret the time spent.
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Three Women
jotix10010 January 2003
The Hours is a great achievement for all of the people involved in this project. Credit must go to the director, Stephen Daldry, who pulls all the elements together.

Having admired the text where this film is based, I wondered what would any writer do with Michael Cunningham's book where three lives of three different eras intermingle with one another. David Hare treatment of the material rings true to the novel in which it's based.

The biggest revelation in the film is Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf. I have been a great admirer of this, up to now, underrated Australian actress, right from her beginnings down under. Her approach to the role is very subdued, perhaps underplaying, where someone else might try to have gone over the top stressing Virginia's madness. All the praise Ms Kidman has received for this film is certainly well deserved.

The other great performance is Julianne Moore. This actress keeps getting better and better with any new appearance on the screen. Her Laura Brown is a pathetic figure. She's a desperate soul trapped in the Los Angeles suburbia of the 40s. She has a man, who obviously loves her. She has a son who shows all the signs, even then, of what he might ultimately become in life. Laura wants to end it all. She just doesn't belong in that world of domestic bliss. Ms Moore gets the right tone in playing Laura. There's not a wrong movement in her approach to this demanding role.

The third outstanding portrayal is Meryl Streep's. The sure hand of the director is obviously behind her reining the excesses she likes so well. This Clarissa Vaughan is in limbo in her own life. Her relationship with the younger lover is clearly over, or at least seen better days. Ms Streep gives a dignified reading of this character.

The rest of the cast is brilliant: Miranda Richardson, Tony Colette, Ed Harris, John C. Reilly, and little Jack Rovello. They are all on the mark.
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More than an average movie
Superunknovvn25 April 2004
"The Hours" is an extremely intelligent movie. It's deep and sensitive and the script is something different for a change. The acting couldn't get any better. EVERY role was casted perfectly. I never really liked Nicole Kidman but she is a fantastic actress and at the moment she just chooses the right roles. She definitely deserved the Oscar. Juliane Moore is amazing, too. I wonder if there is any genre she can't do. And then, there's Meryl Streep. Will this woman ever stop being great? I mean after all the great movies she's been in in the 80's, she's still making exceptional films such as "Adaptation" and "The Hours", whereas other actors who were great 10 years ago pretty much lost it today *cough*Pacino*cough*DeNiro*cough, cough*. The director did a wonderful job and the score is another big plus of this movie. The haunting music underlines the depressing all around atmosphere and lets one feel how miserable these main characters are all the time. At times I felt like these women's sadness was explained too little, though. Maybe that's manly ignorance but I couldn't totally figure out why Juliane Moore's character was so depressed all the time. It was a little annoying that she never stopped crying and you couldn't tell why. I paid attention and I did try reading between the lines but that was a mystery to me. Probably just a personal problem. All in all I think this is the 2nd best movie of 2003's Oscar movies (1st being "The Pianist", 3rd "About Schmidt").
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Much Angst-Accurately
koalaquesadilla5 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
To fulfill the "guidelines" of IMDb, I will start off by saying that I did not enjoy watching this film. However, I found it to be an incredibly accurate depiction of depression supported by impeccable acting by a knock-out cast; plus, the positivity of the final scene (for some of the characters, at least) was refreshing.

Moving on to my motivation for a review-please post this, IMDb. This segment is still elementarily in regards to the content of the film and I think it will also provide a necessary rebuttal to a polarizing argument which could keep folks from experiencing what is really a great piece of cinema.

I just read a review by Eric Allen. The writing was satisfactory and it made a couple of valid points, but I was displeased with the piece in general.

There was one point in particular with which I took offense. The review expressed utter disgust and disillusionment with the angst in this movie, or, more specifically, with the admittedly large quantity of *sighs* present in the film. It went on to discuss the over-the-top nature of Woolf's (Kidman's) Clarissa's (Streep's), and Laura's (Moore's) respective depressions, making such post-production suggestions as titling the film "Just Kill Yourself Already".

I will offer that I, too, was a bit put off by the overall negative attitude of the film and the constant over-analysis and drama on the part of its characters. However, I recognized that these aspects of the film were accurate to actual depression patients.

And consider this: the film is about parallels between the minds of three women, one of whom is Virginia Woolf, writer of the tragic "Mrs. Dalloway" and eventual suicide case-a victim of her own torturous mind. Entering such a film, is there not an expectation or rather a necessity of the presence of angst? Additionally, the reviewer I mentioned earlier made it seem as though these women are anomalies of the human condition. They are not: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 14.8 million Americans, or 6.7% of the population ages 18 and older, suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, making it the country's leading cause of disability. Though there are some clues as to the causation of depression, such as chemical in-balance or lack of exercise or proper nutrition, no one knows for sure.

As one can see, these women are not anomalies. They are not freaks to be looked down upon by some ignorant, condescending internet reviewer-these characters provide incredibly accurate representation of the experiences men and women who for centuries have suffered silently with similar symptoms of depression. Depression is real, and it is all too common.

So, as happy as I am that Mr. Eric Allen is ignorant to the realities of depression, I would appreciate it if next time he conducted some research to gather adequate knowledge of his subject before he writes his reviews. That way, he won't sound like an ignorant bigot and we won't have to waste our time on unfounded "pseudo-intellectual" (Allen) scribble.
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Oh God... (SPOILERS)
phiggins3 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
***MILD SPOILERS*** In "The Hours" several of our finest actresses get to kiss several of our finest actresses. Apart from this, there is little to recommend "The Hours" to anyone even remotely intelligent, or, for that matter, awake. Based on a novel by someone, which in turn takes its inspiration from the works of Virginia ody] Woolf, this is one of those movies that wins Oscars, gets articles written about it in serious newspapers, and which everyone wants to see. Unfortunately, that also makes it one of those movies which, in a year's time, will almost certainly be forgotten by everyone who endured it.

Already, a week after I saw it, I'm wondering just how much of this movie I imagined, and how much of it I really saw. For example, I must be mistaken in my belief that the Woolf sections of this film are intellectually light-weight, emotionally hollow and entirely pointless. At no point in the film, as I remember it, do we get any indication of what kind of writer Woolf actually is (apart from that she's a bit of a looney and uses a fountain pen rather than a word processor) or of what her work might mean to anyone, including her. All we really know of her character from this film is that she prefers London to Richmond. Dahhling, don't we all... This is hardly a serious, in-depth character-study. It's the same mistake we saw in last year's "Iris" - the audience's knowledge of the writer's work is assumed by the film-makers, so no effort is made to persuade us that the writer's work is important or even interesting. Meanwhile, in America, Julianne Moore is reading Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" and feeling very sorry for herself indeed. Perhaps she should read something else - something better written, for example - to cheer herself up. She leads a typical 50s life of shiny new car, bland husband, spectacularly exotic repressed lesbian neighbour, annoying kid and Philip Glass soundtrack. The usual. Her day consists of kissing the spectacularly exotic repressed lesbian neighbour (played by the spectacularly exotic Toni Collette - how can someone so unattractive be so attractive? Buggered if I know) making a cake for the bland husband and driving the shiny new car to a hotel and attempting to commit suicide, presumably so she doesn't have to read any more awful novels or listen to any more Philip Glass music. Meanwhile, Meryl Streep is in contemporary New York, organising a party for Ed Harris, who is dying of AIDS. She decides to get the flowers herself. Meanwhile, Julianne Moore reads the first line of "Mrs Dalloway" in which the heroine decides to get the flowers herself. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman writes the first line of "Mrs Dalloway"... do you see? Well, yes, but so what? No really, so ****ing what? What do you want me to do at this point in the film? Sigh with pleasure at the way past and present intertwine? Sigh with pleasure at the way one woman's words echo down through the halls of time, or something? Sigh with pleasure at the bland pseduo-intellectual pretentiousness of it all? "The Hours" is the phoniest, silliest, most pointless, pretentious movie of the year, and I recommend it only because it affords us a tantalising glimpse of Toni Collete's cleavage as she bends over a table, in a scene which I found both stimulating and enlightening. For those of you out there who appreciate the sight of Toni Collete's cleavage, "The Hours" is like a dream come true. For those of us who appreciate good writing, characterisation and proper acting (as opposed to the Oscar-fodder on display here) "The Hours" is an endurance test that can make grown men weep with the sheer terribleness of it all.
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"It Goes On And On - And Nothing Happens"
sddavis633 August 2003
So said the gay ex-lover of Richard (Ed Harris) - whose name I mercifully forget - about a book written by Richard - whose title I mercifully forget. But while the quote is about Richard's fictional book, the words serve also as an apt description of this movie, which goes on and on - and on and on - without anything really happening. OK. I exaggerate a wee bit. In the last twenty minutes or so some things do happen, but it sure takes a long time to get there, and the wait isn't worth the effort.

The story is supposedly about how the lives of three women all revolve around a novel by Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf herself (Nicole Kidman) as she struggles to write the book, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) as she contemplates suicide, and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) as she deals with her ex-husband Richard (who wrote the boring fictional book) who is now dying of AIDS. Frankly the story is not just dull; it's rather depressing, and I was never able to get into it from the very beginning. There was nothing here that interested me.

I do confess, though, to being mystified by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts. This movie got eight Oscar nominations? And how in the world did Nicole Kidman win for Best Actress when - in my humble opinion - she wasn't even the lead actress in the movie? As far as I'm concerned that "honour" - dubious though it is in this project - belongs to Julianne Moore, whose character was much more central to the story and received much more screen time (and who was credited ahead of Kidman). But who can understand such things? All I know is - this was tedious viewing from start to finish.

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Very Disappointing
melissaan24 January 2003
I was looking forward to seeing this movie, and once I did I could not believe the good reviews it got. The fine actresses did well with what little they had but the internal monologues from the book did not translate well into screen dialogue, and the pedantic, paper thin faux-feminism weighted the story down as much as those stones in Virginia Woolf's pockets. Also, I laughed out loud at a few of the scenes with Ed Harris talking about his writing, and I thought the score was intrusive. I understand a great deal of talent and effort went into this film, but the result is pretentious and annoying. I'm amazed at how many people don't notice how bad the script is. For a good movie on writers and writing see "Wonder Boys." For a good movie on suicide see "Ordinary People." For a good movie upper middle class female oppression see "Far From Heaven." This movie sadly tries to do all and fails.
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Hours you'll never get back
moabitnik14 September 2007
This is just about the worst piece of cinematic dreck that has disgraced the silver screens in - at the very least - ten years, an abhorrent accumulation of the most atrocious clichés regarding artists, artistry and everything to do with it, a preciously pretentious piece of whiny tripe, a sugar-coated soaper in disguise with a lemony would-be feminist twist or, if you prefer, an old, stale-tasting slice of non-life, smeared and buttered with one of the worst and most nausea-inducing scores these ears have ever had the displeasure to hear, in short, a waste of just about everything: talent, resources, manpower etc, but most of all, a waste of two hours of your life you'll never, ever be able to reclaim, or, less pompously put, a piece of utter, artsy-fartsy garbage that makes you want to kick everyone involved. Yech!
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So much talent wasted!
Dick Laux10 March 2003
This film begins with Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) walking down to a river, filling her pockets with rocks, wading in and drowning. This will be the only lighthearted moment in the film. After that it gets really depressing. It should have been titled "Frustrated, Suicidal Lesbians" but I doubt it would attract an audience. It wallows in misery and self-pity and celebrates suicide and abandonment as legitimate solutions. It also suggests that true genius can only come from neuroses.

It is an unbelievable misuse of acting talent. "The Hours" is how much of your life you will waste watching it.
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Usual feminist garbage
SamDash9527 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This was so awful, it's a shoo-in for Best Picture. I haven't seen pretentious crap like this since American Beauty. I had the same thought after that movie too.

(Spoilers ahead)

To hear Gloria Steinem tell it in her L.A. Times review, this is the greatest movie ever. From a twisted feminist perspective it might be. Virginia Woolf chooses suicide over a suffocating marriage. The movie suggests the Victorian times did not allow her to live her true lesbian desires. The fact of the matter is that Woolf was severely mentally ill. She was no heroine. She was a very sick woman.

Laura leaves her seemingly idyllic life, again, perhaps, for being stifled from her lesbian leanings. She leaves her nice-guy husband and children, without explanation, to "find herself." Though Steinem calls that a heroine, I believe a more apt description is cold-hearted bitch. Sh*t, marriage is hard sometimes; we don't leave when we're feeling a little blue. Just try and imagine making a movie with a man abandoning his family and trying to put that in a positive light.

And our third heroine, Clarissa, a -surprise!- lesbian is finally free when Richard commits suicide. Men just get in women's way.

Any wonder why someone like Gloria Steinem would love this feminist claptrap? Absolute garbage.
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The Hours, and hours, and hours...
EccentricCattle-22 February 2003
When first I saw the posters for the movie THE HOURS, I said that Nicole Kidman will be nominated for several awards on the basis of her accent and putting on a fake nose. Sometimes it sucks to be right.

The movie centers around three self-indulgent, spoiled, emotionally unstable women who sigh every three to four minutes while pondering suicide. Cheery, huh? Why the movie was not called THE SIGHING, or HEY LOOK AT MY FAKE NOSE AND IGNORE MY BAD ACTING, or simply, JUST KILL YOURSELF ALREADY, I can only imagine had to do with the 13 hour plus running time.

First, a note about the music. The film is scored by minimalist composer, Phillip Glass. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy listening to the same three notes played over and over again on a synthesizer. I find it relaxing, when at home, to put on a Phillip Glass CD and stare into the barrel of a loaded gun while pondering the meaninglessness of existence. However, during the movie I kept wondering when one of the characters was going to say, open a closet door, and find Phillip Glass playing the organ and bludgeon him to death with her shoe. Unfortunately, it never happened. Instead these poor 3 women were forced to have every moment of their lives accompanied by the same relentless repetition of notes. Frankly, I can't blame them for wanting to kill themselves. Anything to make the music stop.

The only way to have a scene between Merryl Streep and Richard Harris not work, would be to have a bad script. Not just a bad script, but a truly awful, phony, wannabe-artsy, pseudo-intellectual, piece of pretentious Hollywood garbage. The theme of the movie, I think, was `Sometimes people have to die in order that other people can appreciate their lives'. The only reason I know that is that Nicole Kidman, I mean, Virginia Wolfe, said that. Talk about pasted on. THE PIANIST, on the other hand, illustrated its themes without ever having to come out and say them. And Adrien Brody's nose is real.

In summary, THE HOURS, is a story about 3 bourgeois women, living in different time-frames, who are in good health and have everything they could possibly want or need. However, because `happiness' is impermanent and momentary, they become depressed and ruin it for everyone else. This movie is clearly the work of a sadist. If you or someone you love are considering seeing this movie, please, don't do it. It may not seem like it at the time, but there are always other options.
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Nothing Like Virginia Woolf
lee199912 February 2009
"The Hours" (and I suppose the book on which it is based, although I haven't read it and don't much want to), reduces the vigor and complexity of Woolf's novel to some paean to self-pitying "feelings" about, oh, you know, time, life, all that stuff we're supposed to think is "universal." How about Woolf's meditations on war, gender, and violence in _Mrs. Dalloway_ and the facts (whatever one makes of them) that she was sexually molested as a child, that her suicide took place during another war, and that she and Leonard were on the Gestapo's hit list? Stripping away all the actual material facts of people's lives and times leaves all this relentless emphasis on their supposed "feelings" simply meaningless and manipulative. It's also extremely irritating to have the artist Vanessa Bell reduced to some fluttering mother hen looking with incomprehension at her dotty genius sister Virginia, and to have the real erotic memory at the core of _Mrs Dalloway_, the kiss with Sally, switched to a kiss with Richard, and Sally reduced to the dull spousal role that is Richard's in the novel. But even as a film taken on its own terms this was overdesigned and stupidly pretentious.
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A Rotting Pile of Politically Correct Tripe
MoTo12330 May 2003
The WORST movie of 2002, this film is politically correct nonsense for the NOW crowd. If you identify with NOW--as most of the people on the Oscar nomination committee apparently do--you will LOVE this film. Stop reading and rent it now. Otherwise, let the Hollywood crowd congratulate themselves, save two hours of your life, and skip this celluloid stinker.

To set the stage: The film opens with three depressed lesbians (one "out", two not "out"). They are in a tizzy about, well, basically nothing. They spend the majority of the film moping around their homes whining about their relatively easy lives. (Think about how others were living in the world during these periods in history--each one of these women lives a comparative life of luxury.) One of them actually has the unbearable burden of a single (1, one, uno) well-behaved child to raise! Poor dear.

In one particularly disgusting incestuous scene a repressed 1920s lesbian forcibly locks lips with her non-lesbian 50-something sister. (The first woman is one of the "heroines" of the film.) Another "heroine" in this group ends up abandoning her family and ruining their lives, however we are expected to feel sorry for her. Sure. If this JACKASS had been a man, he would have been soundly--and rightly--demonized. But this is feminist cinema, so we can't be that politically incorrect, can we?

Other scenes glorify "noble" suicide. Jack Kevorkian himself could not have done a better job. WARNING: DO NOT let your depressed teen watch this film. You may be profoundly sorry.

The only good thing about this film is the interesting time-shifting transition that occurs between scenes. The effect is quite well done--frankly, the best I've ever seen. But that can't save this otherwise ROTTING PILE OF POLITICALLY CORRECT TRIPE.
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"Some Of Us Die So The Rest Of Us Can Appreciate Life"
bkoganbing15 March 2010
The Hours is a triple tracked story about three women of different time periods all of whom have to grapple with the idea of suicide. Don't blink while watching this or you may miss a moment of great acting in someone's look or voice inflection.

All of the women are influenced by novelist Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, all are reading the book at the time the moment of life crisis comes to them. Who would be more influenced by the book than its author Virginia Woolf played here by Nicole Kidman. Her story of suicide is well known and maybe she did reexamine her own writings in Mrs. Dalloway.

The other two stories are from 1951 Los Angeles and 2001 New York. In Los Angeles Julianne Moore seemingly the perfect suburban housewife feels trapped, especially in those times of forced conformity. She's married to your typical suburban dad in John C. Reilly and has one kid and one on the way. But she's reading Mrs. Dalloway and questioning herself.

The modern story in New York involves literary agent Meryl Streep who is taking care of an ex-husband who now has AIDS and is in the final stages. Streep is a lesbian and ex-husband Ed Harris is a gay man. But back in the day people, in fact in all three days, people felt a need to conform to societal norms. It was of course strongest in Virginia Woolf's time in the United Kingdom between the two World Wars. Streep and Harris served as each other's 'beards' even marrying because only now are same gender couples fighting for that right.

At first when I was watching The Hours I thought that maybe it should have just served as a three part film with individual stories. But the reason the film unfolds as it does with the cross-cutting between time and plots will be made clear at the end.

The Hours was up for a flock of Academy Awards including Best Picture, but it only won in one category, Best Actress for Nicole Kidman. Her portrayal of Virginia Woolf is an exercise in restraint and intelligence, her psychosis is very subtly suggested. Some might have chosen to chew the scenery, but in Nicole's case less turned out to be very much more.

Ed Harris was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Julianne Moore for Best Supporting Actress. Moore's appearance in that category was strictly to increase the chance that she or Kidman would win and it worked. But truth be told the three women all have about equal screen time. Harris is unforgettable as a dying man with the AIDS related dementia, questioning all around him including his continued existence.

The Hours is restrained, literate, and wonderful and gives lie to the fact that great screen roles for women just aren't being written.
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Another movie designed to appeal to the audience's desire to feel literate
win20031 January 2003
I'd first just like to make this clear: I'm not the typical movie-going yahoo who stood in line to see "Jackass" on opening weekend or drove "XXX" to a $100

million+ box office take. No, my favorite films of the year included Michael

Cacoyannis' sublime adaptation of Chekov's "The Cherry Orchard," the

brilliantly scripted "Igby Goes Down," and Phillip Noyce's shattering "Rabbit- Proof Fence." So now that I've established that I have semi-decent taste in film, I would like to offer that I think that "The Hours" is undoubtedly the WORST film I have seen in ages. The lead performances - Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep,

Julianne Moore, and Ed Harris - are so poorly conceived and directed as to be embarrasing. There IS good acting in the film, but it's in the small roles - Toni Collette, Clair Danes, and Jeff Daniels. The scene early in the movie when

Meryl Streep goes to the florist is such a disaster of poor scripting and line directory that I was having to stifle laughter. And need we speak of Phillip Glass' score? I like Mr. Glass' music, but Stephen Daldry has inexplicably allowed him to use nothing but slight variations on the EXACT SAME THEME throughout the entire film. The volume of the music has

been mixed very high in comparison to the dialogue, and the result is that the music insufferably overpowers every damned scene it appears is, which is

nearly every one. And the dialogue... what we have in this film is dialogue that works on the

printed page only. Novelists can get away with using arch or unnatural

dialogue because we're not hearing it spoken and we can sort of compensate in our heads. However, when dialogue this ridiculous comes out of an actor's

mouth it becomes pretentious and unbelievable. Does anyone actually believe

that people TALK like this? Absolute silliness. Not to sound insulting to people who liked the movie, but this film is for people who haven't the patience or depth the read a novel of any substance and watch films like this in order to posture themselves as literate. I saw this film with a group of my college professors, and we all went out for coffee afterwards and had a right old time just ripping this film to shreds. I sincerely hope you'll do the same and prevent Paramount and Miramax from financing more debaucles like

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squirrel-2617 February 2004
If you like self-indulgent tripe shoved down your throat for the three longest hours of your life, then this movie is for you. If you value your life, then you might want to skip this as you will learn to hate humanity...if you do not already. If there is a more obnoxious piece of feminst propaganda in the world, I haven't found it. These women SHOULD hate themselves. You will, after you watch this movie.
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This masterpiece will be wasted on the smug and complacent
gault698 November 2003
An outstanding depiction of chronic depression, the deep insight it often engenders, and the devastating impact this phenomenon has on peoples' lives.

The actors must have sensed ahead of time that this was going to be a truly great movie, and all of them completely threw themselves into their roles. The result is a level of acting brilliance rarely seen in cinema today.

Intertwining three story lines in a single movie must have represented a daunting challenge for the director. However, he pulls it off with complete aplomb, enabling us to become deeply absorbed in all three stories as they move, in tandem, inexorably toward their fateful outcomes.

Some on the IMDB board have criticized this movie for being nothing more than overindulgence in morose self-absorption. But, read their comments, and it becomes apparent that many of these critics are predisposed to angrily dismiss ALL life experiences they do not understand. That's a shame because this movie offers them an opportunity to learn something about people who are very different; namely, people who - through no fault of their own - lead wretched emotional lives, and who, perhaps, see and feel far more of the truth of life than the rest of us.
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