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The Hours
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The film with Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf
Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan
Julianne Moore as Laura Brown
Stephen Dillane as Leonard Woolf
Ed Harris as Richard
Jeff 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 present.
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 on March 26, 2003: Last Sunday, Nicole Kidman got her first Academy Award: Best Actress in The Hours].

The movie The Hours. Order the DVD from, and

Check the biography of Nicole Kidman as well as our reviews of the following films with the Australian actress: Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge, The Others and Birthday Girl.
Get Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway, from,,,
Get Michael Cunningham: The Hours, from,,,,

Film soundtrack The Hours by Philip Glass. Get if from,,, Amazon Canada,

Stephen Daldry

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.