This morning finds me working in two separate directions. My mind is split between two endeavors, and a third hovers behind these, just waiting to take over.
The film begins with Virginia Woolf’s suicide as she steps into a deep and swift river, weighting her pockets with stones. From there the film branches into the hidden countenances of complex sadness as suicide haunts the characters in two other separate time periods. Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, connects the characters, the choices unhappy people take while trying to escape from their own inner demons. Some choose life, some choose death, but each choice has unravelling repercussions.
Stephen Daldry directed The Hours, and he kept what could be a confusing change with time and period – the three separate stories – clear, swift, and assured. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore played the central characters in each time period. The acting by a terrific supporting ensemble makes the film richer and gives each transition greater depth. Not to take anything away from Nicole Kidman’s incredible transformation into Virginia Woolf, I believe Julianne Moore’s portrayal of a trapped and troubled housewife in the fifties is the true darkening heart of the film; she also deserved Supporting Actress Oscar recognition here, a lapse that becomes more apparent with each viewing. Moore becomes Laura Brown, and it is her nuanced performance that gives viewers chills as her internal struggle, like Woolf’s, haunts the screen.
A great film to discover for the first time if you somehow missed it and to rediscover. Fall into what I call a Modern Classic Film, and contemplate The Hours once more. Off to finish reading a good book and see another classic film later in the day – Enjoy, Justin
The Hours, the 2002 drama release, is based on the Michael Cunningham novel, from 1998, a book I continue to highly recommend. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Book Award in 1999. His most recent work: Specimen Days in 2005, and By Nightfall from 2010.
The film is rated PG-13 and runs 114 minutes. It was produced by Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films, Scott Rudin Productions.
The film poster photograph is sole property of Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films, and Scott Rudin Productions.