The Hours Get the DVD from Amazon.com,
The film with Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf
Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan
Julianne Moore as Laura Brown
Dillane as Leonard Woolf
Ed Harris as Richard
Daniels as Louis
Director: Stephen Daldry
Scenario: David Hare
Director of photography: Seamus McGarvey
Article added on March 23, 2003 The Hours takes place in
three different periods, each of them evolving one central female character who is
closely related to a piece of English literature, Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs.
Dalloway, which will change all their lives. The English author herself
used The Hours as a working title for book.
There is Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), drowning herself in a river in 1941
and, before that, trying to write the first lines of her fourth novel, Mrs.
Dalloway, in a quiet London suburb in 1923. Her husband (played by Stephen
Dillane) moved with her to the country house in order to heal the depression
and avoid further breakdowns and
suicide attempts by his wife. Virginia, however, still hears voices, is
depressed, restless, agitated and just longs to go back to London.
But somehow she manages to write the novel with Clarissa Dalloway as its main
character. A woman who realizes in the course of one day, while preparing
another society event, that she has lived a life of missed chances.
Twenty years later, the apparently accomplished Los Angeles housewife
and mother Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) reads Mrs. Dalloway in 1952.
It is the birthday of her husband, and she comes
to the conclusion that her life needs a dramatic change. First, she
unsuccessfully thinks of suicide, but then decides to leave her husband and
her son Richie (Jack Rovello).
In present day New York City, the intellectual and editor Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep)
prepares a party for her friend and former lover, the poet Richard (Ed Harris),
who is suffering from AIDS in its final stage. While preparing the reception,
she too looks back on her life. She is lesbian, Richard is gay, both tried to
find freedom in the arms of same sex lovers and companions. Both failed.
David Hare's convincing scenario is the basis for director Stephen Daldry's
adaptation of Michael Cunningham's novel The Hours which, in 1999, was
awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Hare and Daldry brilliantly tie the three narrative
threads together, sometimes demonstratively in parallel montage, sometimes
more subtly e.g. by using the same motives or just the color of the clothes. The
inner life of the characters is expressed through the story telling and, above
all, through the acting abilities of the nearly perfect cast: Nicole Kidman,
Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris, etc. The masterly and tasteful camerawork
by director of photography Seamus McGarvey is crucial for the movie's success too.
The same can be said of the make-up (e.g. for Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris),
the different period costumes and the choice of locations.
Film is a different medium than a novel, therefore, Stephen Daldry has to condense
time, which, luckily, is also a trademark of Virginia Woolf's and Michael
Cunningham's writing in which the past can come to life in a moment of the
Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf has the most gratifying part in the sense that
she can express a lot through her absent and deliberate expressionless look,
her gestures and her way of speaking. The artificial nose changes her physical
appearance effectively - why nobody has ever thought about transforming an actress
that way before remains a mystery. Anyway, Nicole Kidman deserves more than an
Oscar nomination, she deserves the overdue Academy Award. The Hours has
already garnered two Golden Globes as well as nine Oscar nominations. [added
26, 2003: Last Sunday, Nicole Kidman got her first Academy Award: Best Actress in The
The Hours is director Stephen Daldry's second feature film, after his
critically acclaimed debut Billy Elliot - I Will Dance about a young
ballet dancer with newcomer Jamie Bell in the title role. Three Academy Award
nominations, twelve BAFTA Award nominations and thirty-two international
awards testify to the success of the film. Before his film career, Stephen Daldry
was in charge of the Royal Court
Theatre, for which he directed or produced more than one hundred plays. He
continues to work for the Royal Court Theatre as vice-director and also works
for the Old Vic and the Young Vic Theatre in London. Daldry directed Machinal
and An Inspector Calls for the National Theater. He won a Tony Award
(the "theatre Oscar") for An Inspector Calls, which still
plays at London's West End and on Broadway. In 1999, Daldry's short film Eight
was nominated for a BAFTA Award. Stephen Daldry's current projects include two
plays: Caryl Churchill's Far Away for the New York Theater
Workshop and A Number for London's Royal Court Theatre.