The Hours
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

          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 The 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.