I have to
say that I had huge expectations going into this movie. First, I had
to wait several extra weeks waiting for The Hours to open down under.
Plus, I had already read, not only the book that the movie is based on (also
Hours, written by Michael Cunningham), but also the book that the book
was inspired by, Mrs.
Dalloway. The latter was a revelation. Virginia Woolf can write
stream of consciousness like I can only dream to write. Anyway, as you can
see, my expectations were dangerously high. But I am happy to say
that this film lived up to the hype and is definitely one of the top films
of the year. The Hours tells the stories of three women all
somehow related to Mrs.
Dalloway. The first story, set in the 1920's, follows Virginia
Woolf (Nicole Kidman), as she is writing the book. The second story,
set in the 1950's, follows the troubled life of a young wife and mother
(Julianne Moore) as she is reading Mrs.
Dalloway. Finally, the third story, set in the present day, follows
an older woman (Meryl Streep) who is leading a similar life to Mrs.
Dalloway. There is another link between the stories but I won't give
it away if you haven't seen The Hours yet.
If you have read The Hours,
you may have thought that it would be as hard as The
Orchid Thief to "adapt" for the screen. Much of the action of
The Hours takes place in the minds of the three women. But the screenplay
by David Hare and the direction by Stephen Daldry have managed to bring
this inner action out onto the screen. Another joy about this film
is how the three stories are interwoven so that we see the similarities
of the three women who are so different on the surface. It also makes
this film something of a "can you top this" Oscar contest between Streep,
Kidman and Moore. They are all great in The Hours. And Kidman will
deserve the Oscar if she wins as is widely rumored, but for my money, Meryl
Streep can still run rings around everyone else. Kidman is completely unrecognizable
under the now famous nose and with, not only a different accent, but a totally
different voice. Moore delivers another effortless performance which
almost a riff off her similar role in Far From Heaven.
Backing up the star power, is an amazing
supporting cast. They are almost too many to list, but Miranda Richardson
and Stephen Dillane as Kidman's sister and husband, John C. Reilly and Toni
Collette as Moore's Husband and friend, and Ed Harris, Allison Janney and
Claire Danes as Streep's ex-lover, present lover, and daughter. Among
this great group, I'd like to pick out the men in these women's lives, Harris,
Reilly and Dillane, for being up to the task of acting with and against
Streep, Moore and Kidman. Reilly should get some kind of nice-guys-finish-last
award after playing the nice but boring and soon to be deserted husband
in Chicago and The Hours.
The Hours is bound to win some Oscars and could very well win Best Picture. It doesn't have the flash of Chicago but it has infinitely greater depth. If you haven't seen this movie, you better go to see it soon.