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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.31%
Average: 15.63%
Pretty Bad: 14.84%
Total Crap: 18.75%

8 reviews, 80 user ratings

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Hours, The
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by Natasha Theobald

"The Hours felt a little empty."
3 stars

This is one of those movies that throws out nuggets of wisdom, pelting the audience with sharp bits of truth in the hope that some will pierce them. Not only did these nuggets seem sort of obvious, they were surrounded by drama so superficial that I started to resent the movie for thinking it had anything real or worthwhile to tell me about life. While there were some moments that were effective, mostly there was just a dull din of depression and hopelessness. Where was the spark?

I haven't read Michael Cunningham's book, but I did study Mrs. Dalloway in school, the book which is central to the story of the movie in connecting the primary female characters. Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is writing the book, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is reading it, and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is living it, in a way.

We spend our time with Woolf in the country. She has been sent out of the city on advice of her doctors for rest. Her days are not filled, rather empty in fact, with infrequent visits with family, including her husband (Stephen Dillane) and her sister (Miranda Richardson), and writing the story of Mrs. Dalloway. She doesn't want food or comfort. She merely struggles against the inactivity for some semblance or feeling of life.

We see Laura on her husband's (John C. Reilly) birthday. She is pregnant with a second child and struggling to be an appropriate 1950s housewife. Her time is spent trying to bake a cake with her son (Jack Rovello), reading her book, and comforting a sick friend (Toni Colette). She tries to contemplate a different kind of life and seems to suffer from the kind of pain that only ends with death or some sort of self-destruction.

Clarissa is planning a party. She has flowers to buy and the ailing guest of honor (Ed Harris) to convince with regards to attending. Her life is filled with minor busy work, as well as a lover (Allison Janney) and a daughter (Claire Danes). She, too, is constrained by what has been deemed appropriate, even if the constraints are of her own construction.

As you can see, director Stephen Daldry has combined the talents of an exemplary cast. Most of the names listed in the credits belong to actors accustomed to carrying the weight of a story on their capable shoulders alone. While impressive, indeed, it may ultimately be a disservice to this film. Every face is a familiar one, and all of the old standbys have not come to play with their "A" game. At one point, I was reminded of the type of acting done in high school speech with dramatic scenes. I'm pretty sure that's not what the actors were going for. Nicole Kidman was a standout, though, and Julianne Moore had a nice scene or two of well-tempered, quiet desperation. Jack Rovello is a self-possessed young actor and gives an affecting performance.

There are moving moments, but they are plunked in the middle of a whole lot of nothing going on. They are islands of realism floating in a morass of well-intentioned but ultimately rootless and sadly overwrought melodrama. I wanted desperately to feel something, anything, but, in the end, I felt nothing at all.

Maybe the lesson here is that poetry and truth are not always easily found where you want to look for them. I don't mind the pain that comes with realization, but it should lead to something honest or real.

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originally posted: 02/18/03 07:03:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/03/12 Courtney Great cast & a gripping story of love and loss. 5 stars
9/07/08 Pamela White life choices restrained by social expectations 4 stars
4/06/07 Anthony brilliant writing acting music. A perfect film 5 stars
1/21/07 Bitchflaps Risibly pretentious and dramatically one note, bonus points for the detail and Moore's perf 2 stars
6/18/06 jcnice well acted but it's message is old hat: be true to yourself. 4 stars
4/12/06 anthonyuk great film but the oscar should have gone to julianne moore 5 stars
4/02/06 JRE i don't get it 4 stars
1/03/06 Daveman I'm shocked to say that Nicole deserved her oscar 4 stars
12/23/05 Indrid Cold Intelligent, meloncholy dramas are nice in theory, but they usually turn out pretty boring. 4 stars
10/05/05 Jesse Taylor Possibly the best movie of 2002. Outstanding performances from the whole cast. 5 stars
8/29/05 rada perfect 4 stars
8/25/05 ES This is a numbingly boring and badly made movie about weak women who are closet lesbians 1 stars
6/22/05 K. Everts Interesting review, but M.P. Bartley should learn to spell "its." 4 stars
6/08/05 fab Seen this and want to die(only women can like this crap) 1 stars
1/08/05 Lucas Stenz bites 1 stars
12/05/04 Kristina Williams I was surprised at how much I liked this flick, even with fake noses and lesbos. 5 stars
11/03/04 ELI Needed more lesbians! Besides that it was pretty good. 4 stars
11/02/04 Eleanor it got me thinking about walking a mile in another mans shoes 5 stars
11/01/04 AnnaMaria this movie is a masterpiece it gives us a different point of view.. 5 stars
10/29/04 moviegoer Worst movie ever! 1 stars
10/02/04 Daveman Too staged, theatrical and contrived, The Hours never really comes to life. 2 stars
8/16/04 Rusty Klichowicz 3 women, 3 eras, connected by spirit. 5 stars 5 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva a real surprise 5 stars
4/25/04 Carla i thought it was confusing and boring. 3 stars
4/17/04 Alex Blech. Yech. Shudder. I have no words. 1 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt Despite a good cast, it's a very disappointing, highly pretentious piece of crap. 2 stars
4/15/04 gordon purcell Indulgent, overwrought, with bad part for struggling Harris (Streep, Moore are strong 'tho) 1 stars
4/15/04 Charlene Javier One of the best films EVER! 5 stars
4/15/04 rojo Well acted, but depressing. 4 stars
4/13/04 Chris I really liked it however did every women have to be gay? Acted very well with good cast. 4 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser The first movie that drove ME to tears! Very heavy! Beautiful! The best drama ever! 5 stars
3/01/04 alice heavy, too heavy 3 stars
2/13/04 Monster W. Kung Horrid, fake drama that offers nothing whatsoever. 1 stars
2/03/04 May Q. Horney Could have been worse! Meryl Streep could have been the one with nose enlargement! 2 stars
2/03/04 Iris Verna How did Nicole Kidman smell while wearing that fake nose? Awful! 2 stars
2/03/04 LeAnn McFadden Nicole, did someone select that nose for you? Or did you get to pick your nose yourself? 2 stars
1/29/04 Rhoda Knight Bullshit Elena! I dont like the movie because IT is sexist! 1 stars
1/24/04 Elena This film was amazing and beautifully acted and conveyed. If you dont like it you're sexist 5 stars
1/09/04 Gray Exemplary performances by Moore and Streep. Beautiful music. Heavy-going. 4 stars
1/02/04 Nick Pretty bad with occasional decent moments, but no way did Kidman deserve that Oscar. 2 stars
10/05/03 Karen Moore I hope real Virginia Woolf was nothing like this! Other 2 brats are fictitious,so who cares 1 stars
9/16/03 Jinnvisible `Body snatcher`approach to period drama , Aaagh!!! depresion has got me better, kill myself 3 stars
9/03/03 Amelia Lundy The Hours is one of the most deeply, moving,best films I've ever seen. 5 stars
8/26/03 Millie Maelstrom Charles Tatum, hope your IQ is over 20. These women are self-indulgent,NOT self-sacrificing 1 stars
8/25/03 May Q. Horney Could've been worse -- Meryl Streep could have been the one with nose enlargement! 2 stars
8/17/03 Summer Kidman had that Best Actress Oscar coming a long time before, but The Hours WAS great. 5 stars
8/14/03 cpbjr nicole kidman was amazing, as were all the actors 5 stars
8/13/03 The Talking Elbow Some good acting, especially Nicole, but the movie had an odd lesbian pretense. 3 stars
7/27/03 Kay Y. Keep prozac with you while watching. 4 stars
7/08/03 John Phillips If you liked Shrek you will love this one, CGI was amazing. 5 stars
6/19/03 gray dicks 5 stars
6/11/03 George Jung Cheap Oscar bullshit without a single original fucking thought. 1 stars
5/22/03 Desert Rat Immature jackass is just that--Julianne Moore rocked! 4 stars
5/09/03 Ellie Jack Mello Intelligent. No conclusion but - this IS Virginia Wolfe! 5 stars
5/06/03 immature jackoff Julianne Moore is a quite capable actress, but utterly wasted in this bratfest! 2 stars
4/20/03 Flick Chick boring, dull, slow, pointless crap disguised as a cinematic masterpiece 1 stars
4/20/03 Dillon Julianne Moore made it worthwhile. I'm not surprised immature jackoffs hated it 5 stars
4/05/03 Sherron Total agreement with your review. In the end I wanted to slit my throat! 2 stars
3/24/03 May Q. Horney Could have been worse -- Meryl Streep could have been the one with nose enlargement! 2 stars
3/23/03 byron chicago rules u gay fuks 1 stars
3/11/03 Shadaan Felfeli Performances were good enough but i just didn't get the whole lesbionic film ! 3 stars
3/07/03 Sure hope that's not the world I'M trapped in! Trapped in a world where everyone's gay and can't be happy trying to deny it. 3 stars
2/27/03 tina I thought it was BRILLIANT. The score was amazing 5 stars
2/26/03 Deanna Beautiful captures the book wonderfully NOT for the boom boom crowd. 5 stars
2/23/03 Flick Chick boring, dull, slow, pointless crap disguised as a cinematic masterpiece 1 stars
2/23/03 renate + udo HANDEL crap 1 stars
2/19/03 Tar Mac Decent enough, but there's no way this deserves to be odds-on for best picture! 4 stars
2/18/03 y2mckay Nice review, Tash! See Rider, even women don't like it! The He-slut is vindicated! 2 stars
2/14/03 Andrew Carden Misunderstood Film Is Actually Quite Fantasic. 5 stars
2/09/03 Lee Y2McKay took the words right out of my mouth 2 stars
2/08/03 Heather Great acting all around, enjoyed the Mrs Dalloway influence throughout 5 stars
2/02/03 Ubu the Ripper How can anyone in their right mind thinks Nicole Kidman can act? GROTESQUE. 1 stars
2/01/03 Suzz a splendid and beautiful film 5 stars
1/28/03 pipeman brilliant. Not to be missed. 5 stars
1/27/03 Angolmois Moody, brooding etc... but that's why it's greast. Hope you like Philip Glass music. 5 stars
1/22/03 Benjamin Leatherman Hours? Seemed like days! Boring flick about middle-aged broads. 3 stars
1/22/03 Jen I really liked it. But maybe thats because I read the book before I saw it...... 5 stars
1/15/03 Wyrus Sandman Wow, I'm the only person who's seen this? Thematically hard to follow, but great acting 3 stars
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  27-Dec-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Jun-2003



Directed by
  Stephen Daldry

Written by
  David Hare

  Meryl Streep
  Nicole Kidman
  Julianne Moore
  Toni Collette
  Claire Danes
  Ed Harris

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