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THE HOURS

Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Toni Collette, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, Claire Danes. Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney

Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Written by: David Hare
Produced by: Scott Rudin, Robert Fox
Distributor: Paramount Pictures and Miramax Film Corp.

US: 27/12/02
UK: 13/02/03

Based 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.

I'll 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.
MEDIA BUZZ
10 Mar 2003/New York Times: Men of the Theater, Competing for Oscars
24 Feb/Moviebus: Great result at starworthy British Academy Awards
21 Feb/Miami Herald: A dreary, ponderous, exhaustingly self-important movie about a bunch of women having a really bad day.
15 Feb/New York Times: The Virginia Woolf of 'The Hours' Angers the Real One's Fans
11 Feb/Moviebus: The Hours gets Oscar noms
10 Feb/New York Post:Meryl Streep may very likely make history when Oscar nominations are announced
27 Jan/Moviebus: Chicago & New York lead 2003 BAFTA noms
20 Jan/Moviebus: Complete list of Golden Globe winners
20 Jan/Moviebus:Time for 'Chicago' & 'The Hours' at Golden Globes
19 Jan/New York Times: For 'The Hours,' an Elation Mixed With Doubt by Michael Cunningham
19 Jan/New York Times: John C.Reilly...The Familiar Face That Nobody Knows
17 Jan/New York Daily News: With a wide release of contenders, Oscar race sees Golden opportunity
17 Jan/Miami Herald: 'The Hours' is Julianne Moore's second Oscar-caliber performance this year
15 Jan/New York Times: A leave-no-stone-unturned approach to campaigning for the Oscars has been adopted by virtually all of the movie studios.
15 Dec/Moviebus: LA crits pick Julianne Moore as Best Actress for 'Far From Heaven' & 'The Hours'
11 Dec/Moviebus: Daldry signs for more producer Scott Rudin projects
7 Dec/Moviebus: Kidman ready for goose bumps in new romance
7 Nov/LA Times: Transformed by the soul of Woolf
1 Nov/Daily Telegraph: Nicole Kidman talks about Virginia Woolf

REVIEWS

Atlanta Journal/Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Trib/LA Weekly
Miami Herald/Entertainment Weekly
People/Washington Post
Cincinatti Enquirer/E! Online
Screen Daily UK/
Film Critic.com/Village Voice
Slant/LA Times
New York Post/New York Times
USA Today/LA Weekly
Hollywood Reporter/Film Journal

Ebert & Roeper
Dave Reviews Out Loud

Top thesps Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore & Nicole Kidman while away the hours together!




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TIME 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 height." Wow!

'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 of AIDs.

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 together.

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 Harris.

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.

 


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