Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Toni
Collette, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, Claire
Danes. Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney
by: Stephen Daldry
Written by: David Hare
Produced by: Scott Rudin, Robert Fox
Distributor: Paramount Pictures and Miramax Film Corp.
on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel,
the film interweaves the stories of three women - a
book editor in New York (Streep), a young mother in
California (Moore) and author Virginia Woolf (Kidman).
In 1949, Laura Brown is planning a party for her husband,
but she can't stop reading the novel 'Mrs. Dalloway'.
Clarissa Vaughn, a modern woman living in present times
is throwing a party for her friend Richard, a famous
author dying of AIDS. These two stories are simultaneously
linked to the work and life of Virginia Woolf, who's
writing the novel mentioned before.
be attending a special screening at the Screen On The
Hill, London - after which the screenwriter David Hare
will be discussing the challenges in writing this movie.
Report to follow.
thesps Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore & Nicole Kidman
while away the hours together!
WELL SPENT IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN
In his great novel Howards End, E.M. Forster wrote one of
the most poignant and thrilling lines in English literature,
"Only connect!... Only connect the prose and the passion,
and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its
'The Hours' connects. It's the story of three women at different
times and places - and how the past echoes through time right
up to us, right now. They're connected, as are we all, by
the eternal human journey and the quiet search for meaning
in our own life. And death.
'The Hours' follows Virginia Woolf in 1920's London, struggling
to write her groundbreaking first novel 'Mrs Dalloway' while
bravely fighting the madness that haunted her life. In 1951
Los Angeles, Laura Brown is a shiny, unhappy suburban housewife
and mother who connects profoundly whilst reading Woolf's
novel. And in today's New York City, Clarissa is effectively
Mrs. Dalloway come to life as a middle-aged woman who cannot
let go of her youthful physical love for a man dying slowly
Amazingly these three stories connect in a way that is thrilling
to see on the screen. All taking place in the space of one
day, seemingly like any other day - just like the fictional
story of Mrs Dalloway. The space of one day. Our life. Those
are 'The Hours'.
Yeah, okay this could come across like an artsy-piece. But
to me it's more like a thriller that starts with a shocking
suicide. And like any good thriller, you really don't know
what's going on until you begin to connect all the pieces
This starts with the gutsy screenplay written by David Hare
as an adaptation of the award winning novel from Michael Cunningham.
In his Screenwriting Masterclass which followed the first
UK showing, Hare described how - and I quote - "militant"
he was in keeping in a 20 minute scene between Streep and
Let me tell you, it flows like warm honey. It never occurred
to me that this scene was running to an unheard of length
for a mainstream movie. Which brings me to the extraordinary
cast comprising one of the most dazzling set of subtle, powerful
actors that have ever been gathered together for a movie.
The women have the dominant roles here. Meryl Streep and Julianne
Moore are quite brilliant as Clarissa and Laura respectively.
They don't appear to be acting - they seemed to have slid
underneath the skin to become their character. The merest
flick of an eyelid opens a world of raw emotion from both
these master performers.
More than a match - and something of a surprise to me - is
Nicole Kidman, famed prosthetic nose and all, as Virginia
Woolf. She's pitch perfect in showing the wit and intelligence
of one of the most important writers of the twentieth century
- of either sex. The fact that she is also revered as a foremost
'feminist' writer, is of course, the foundation of 'The Hours'.
These three are meant to represent and show the changing aspirations
of women over the ebb and flow of the last century. That's
a tall order for a movie of just a couple of hours. But the
director Stephen Daldry and his Editor keeps a strong grip
on the complexity of the connecting stories.
The first act begins with rapid cuts from story to story,
a head turns in 1923 Richmond to a Manhattan skyline in 2002.
A bunch of bright flowers are presented in LA and placed on
a kitchen table in Virginia's stiflingly bourgeois Richmond
home. But as the pace becomes more measured and the characters
assert themselves, we gradually begin to divine the connecting
threads, the passion and the prose that links these three
sisters in time.
There are no villains here, certainly not the men. Each story
is of its time and morays. Though Laura does ultimately seems
to be drawn to an act of shocking selfishness and cruelty
to another that doesn't quite chime.
The performances of the supporting cast are all quite superbly
realized. Ed Harris as Richard, the AIDs ravaged survivor,
diminishes his trademark physicality to show mere impressions
of the power that was once his.
And Toni Collette, is truly stunning in an all too brief scene
with Moore. This is the crux of Laura's story. It captures
everything about her quiet desperation and sets you up for
what's to come.
And did I mention the other supporting actors Claire Danes,
Jeff Daniels, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, Allison
Janney? Exceptional every one.
'The Hours' is a clever movie that challenges and delights.
It's also entertaining, funny and intensely moving. But ultimately,
it actually has something interesting to say. And that's worth
two hours of anyone's time.