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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 EricDSnider

"Stephen Daldry nose how to make a good movie."
5 stars

"The Hours" is a parade of sad, beautiful performances, a sort of gorgeous funeral procession of acting. Its structure allows each actor the opportunity to emote with Oscar-worthy fervor at least once, and in the case of some of them, several times. A young thespian could open the screenplay to nearly any page and find a scene or monologue worth memorizing for auditions. It's that good.

The screenplay, by David Hare, is based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, whose multi-storied structure and action-less plot make for an introspective book and a seemingly unfilmable movie. Yet here it is, directed by Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot") with such grace and cinematic flair that it's hard to imagine it NOT being a movie.

It is about three women who are on the edge: Before the film's end, they will either learn to cope with life, or else they will give up on it completely. The title refers to what one does in the hours AFTER the party. Once the momentary diversions have ended, are we still able to deal with life? That is the question here.

The first woman is Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), the troubled British novelist who, in 1923, when we see her, is writing her most famous book, "Mrs. Dalloway." Her husband (Stephen Dillane) worries for his wife's well-being; she clearly is not happy, but neither he nor the doctors can figure out why.

Next is Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a nervous housewife in suburban Los Angeles in 1951. She has a young son and a devoted husband (John C. Reilly), but all is not well. She is uncertain about something. She has begun reading "Mrs. Dalloway"; it will inspire her one way or the other.

Finally, in 2001, is Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), a modern-day Manhattan version of Mrs. Dalloway, a frequent thrower of parties, and a friend to many of the artists and writers in Gotham. On the day in question -- for the film examines one pivotal day in the life of each heroine -- Clarissa is planning an event in honor of her friend Richard (Ed Harris), an AIDS-stricken poet who is being given a major award.

Thanks in part to a prosthetic nose and frumpy costuming that render her unrecognizable, Nicole Kidman is terrifically, tragically sad as the dowdy Virginia Woolf. She carries the melancholy in her eyes, and though the fake schnoz doesn't look quite as good when examined closely, that doesn't stop Daldry from shooting her in tight close-ups, to let us see those sad eyes. Kidman's performance is breathtaking; she has lost herself completely in the utterly unglamorous role.

Julianne Moore, who excelled once this year already as a heavyhearted 1950s housewife in "Far From Heaven," goes back to the well for more angst as Laura Brown. What an achingly sympathetic and wrenching performance this is! She is even better than Meryl Streep, and Meryl Streep is fantastic as Clarissa, who is slowly melting under the pressure of daily life.

Ah, and then there are glorious supporting turns by John C. Reilly and Toni Collette, help from Claire Danes and Allison Janney, a remarkable couple of scenes with Ed Harris, and even a fine speech by Jeff Daniels.

And it is all organically directed by Daldry so that it appears to be one cohesive story, and not a series of attention-grabbing star turns. Since the stories, being set in different time periods, do not actually intersect very much, Daldry finds other ways of uniting them, using little visual devices to keep the divergent narratives from breaking apart. There are obvious points like each of the heroines being in bed when the film begins; and then there are subtle maneuvers like having Julianne Moore scrape a failed cake into the trash early on, and then having Meryl Streep dispose of a tray of hors d'oeuvres in much the same fashion near the end. They are small efforts that pay off richly.

When "The Hours" is over, you are blissfully unaware of the cunning necessary to pull off such a fine film; all you know is that you have seen a masterful piece of work whose emotional resonance is so natural, you wonder why more films can't accomplish it.

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originally posted: 07/04/03 17:59:20
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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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