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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 MP Bartley

"Bohemian Crap-sody"
1 stars

It's Oscar season and all the big hitters are rolling out. There's epics and biographies, twisted comedies and ironic takes on life all jostling for position to get on the podium on the big night, and 'The Hours' is one of the favourites to scoop a few of the little gold skinheads. It's serious, it's based on an award winning book, it's got actors portraying people dying of AIDS, of haunted writers slowly going mad and lots of ISSUES. It's clear that Oscar is going to love it. But the only thing that will love 'The Hours' more then the Oscars is 'The Hours' itself. A shame that it's a repugnant, self-indulgent, emotionally hollow, intellectually false mess.

Virginia Woolf (a beaky nosed and mad eyed Nicole Kidman) is undertaking the writing of 'Mrs Dalloway'. It's a frustating process however, worrying her devoted husband Lawrence (Stephen Dillane) and sister (Miranda Richardson) greatly with her mental state of mind. Unsurprising as she will eventually commit suicide.

In 50's America, housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is preparing to celebrate her husbands (John C Reilly) birthday, while reading 'Mrs Dalloway'.

And in present day New York, book editor Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is throwing a celebratory party for poet and ex-lover Richard (Ed Harris) who has won a celebrated prize for his latest work. He's also dying of AIDS and understandably rather bitter and sceptical about winning this prize now.

Director, Stephen Daldry then attempts to intertwine the lives of these three women all linked through 'Mrs Dalloway'. One writing it, one reading it one seemingly living it.
It's a novel concept and gets off to a startling beginning as we see Woolf wading into a river loading herself down with rocks and drowning. Unfortunately this is one of the very few moments that capture the attention. The majority of the running time will be spent studying your fingernails, counting the number of people in the theatre with you and trying to calculate how may days are left until 'Return of the King' is released.

'The Hours'? Try the years. Daldry mistakes slow, solemn and pompous for high-brow, serious and stylish. The characters barely speak past a murmur and you can practically see the film crawl by, frame by frame.

But it would be an easy and childish to dismiss 'The Hours' as 'slow' or because 'nothing happens'. A hell of a lot happens, but Daldry and some of the actors haven't the faintest on how to make you invest one iota of feeling into their predicament.

Kidman tries her hardest and manages to be much more than just a glamorous actress going ugly, but as her role is barely more than an extended cameo it's hard to sympathise fully.

Ditto Moore. A great actress, she gives a decent turn but again hasn't nearly enough time to invest the film with emotional weight and has to make do with plaintive stares and wobbly upper lips. Her performance in 'Far From Heaven' is how it should have been done. Both suffer from a lack of backstory, Daldry's dull as ditchwater direction, and a patronising screenplay that never opens up to let the audience investigate. It's all tell and no show.

Woolf is going mad. How do we know? Because the script insists on TELLING us that several times. Apart from one time where she drifts off into a world of her own, there's no attempt to let the audience realise that in their own term. For all the subtlety here, she may as well be on her time of the month. Instead she resorts to mooching around her country estate, puffing on roll-ups to suggest a tortured artist. The only time we ever see anything approaching a real emotion is a train station argument between her and Lawrence. More time on this relationship would have made for a much more interesting twist.

Again the same happens with Moore. 'The Hours' is sooo much more important and intellectual than humble viewers like you me and you that it simply has to clarify everything in the simplest terms for us to understand. So again we have a depressed female character contemplating suicide. We know this because it's jabbed in our eyes until we're contemplating it ourselves. No attempt at a fully fleshed character here, we just a cardboard cut-out of female depression because we're just too thick to figure out these issues for ourselves.

So far, so average verging on poor. Both Kidman and Moore are good, while Dillane quietly steals the film with the only performance that seems real and not stagey. What really drags this down though, is the amount of time wasted on Streep and Harris. Streep is insufferably pretentious and annoying as a middle-class, wannabe bohemian, who damn it just can't connect with life. How do we see this depression taking hold in her life? She can't throw a party without crying. Seriously. It sounds like a pitch for the next J-Lo comedy. Her life is so fucked up she can't eveb begin to think of the lobster vol-au-veunts without the waterfalls starting. Well pardon me for seeming callous, but boo frickin' hoo. Break the hankies out.

It's this pretentious wallowing in self-important, self-misery that makes 'The Hours' such a hateful experience. If I had to look at a tear stained Streep whining about she isn't happy in her plush apartment, and how nothing is right anymore, I was going to strangle her with her own hippie beads.

Harris doesn't fare much better. One of the greatest actors around, his poet is a cynical, bitter cliche, selfish and unloveable (like every other character) to the last. A poor performance that seems much more important than it is. Jeff Daniels then pops up as his ex-lover and describes how he simply had to escape the horror of his own life by...hopping on the nearest trip to Europe. Woah, what a trauma. And here was me thinking turning to Jack Daniels at times of stress was tough enough. There's so many pseudo-intellectual observations and confessions here, I felt like dishing out a verse of the rosary to everyone.

And Daldry's direction here is at it's most heavy-handed. Apart from Harris calling Streep 'Mrs Dalloway' at every single freaking opportunity (yes alright we get it! She is like Mrs Dalloway and that's how she links in! Oh you're so clever), how else does he link the three women? They all break eggs into a bowl at some point. Let's call in 'The X-Files' here folks, the resemblance is uncanny.

As you may have guessed, I loathed 'The Hours'. It's a bohemians wetdream of what constitutes life and misery, but has no idea and just parades it's own self-importance and pretensions of grandeur and intelligence. Yes, Kidman, Moore and Dillane deserve some praise, but they're ultimately beaten down and drowned out by Daldry's clumsy direction, an insulting script, Philip Glass' meandering and annoying music, Harris' over-the-top hullabaloo and Streeps' endless sqwuaking. Oscars ahoy!

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originally posted: 03/12/03 23:28:46
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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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