This is not the first time I have sat down to review “The Hours”. For whatever reason, I have had trouble getting my thoughts down in print. “The Hours” is not an easy, mainstream film. It is a mega film with some of the best acting we have seen in quite a while. It has won major awards and is based upon a novel that won the Pulitzer Prize. It has been granted glowing reviews and for that reason, you would think that it would have greater appeal.
It is not regular Hollywood fare. Things that happen in the movie are left up to the audience to decide what they mean. The ideas presented are controversial and people will not only argue the movie’s merit but about what exactly takes place in the film. A viewer’s interpretation says more about the viewer than it does about the movie.
The film takes place on a single day I the lives of three women at different periods. During that day, each woman makes a decision that will influence the rest of her life. Many people were caught off-guard by the film. They were expecting more in the vein of what Hollywood usually produces. How the picture even managed to get a PG-13 rating is a mystery to me. There is suicide and homosexuality in the film and these are topics that usually earn at least an R rating if not an X. There is a great deal of extreme emotion in the film and although not violent, it is very intense.
I classify “The Hours” as a great film but only for those who can take the challenge of thinking about it long after it is over.
There is no question that it deserves all of its critical praise. It is original and the originality of technique of tying together three separate stories in different points in time is a technique most are not familiar with.
The story of the 1920’s is the story of Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) as she tries to write her novel, “Mrs. Dallaway”—the story of a day in the life of a woman named Clarissa. The second story is about Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) who is reading Woolf’s novel. The third story is set in contemporary times and is about Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) who essentially is Mrs. Dallaway living in modern New York City. Each of these actresses give outstanding performances as well do the rest of the actors in the film.
From what I see and feel, the movie is about art but in a broad definition of the word—the three arts here are writing a book, baking a cake and giving a party. Each woman finds frustration and drive in the need for perfection. It also deals with the difficulty in making decisions. As we discover who we are, we experience loss and accumulate grief over the years of our lives which only makes us more aware at how much our decisions cost.
One of the first things I noticed in “The Hours” is that there are more characters than usual that are if not gay, bisexual.
The movie is a symphony of despair. There are a lot of depressed people in this movie but the movie itself is not depressing because of the artistry of the performances. Three fascinating different stories, edited together into a complex and intriguing drama is a monumental motion picture that should not only be seen but cherished.