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The Hours (Full Screen Edition)
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
THE CAPTIVATING STORY OF THREE WOMEN FROM DIFFERENT ERAS WHOSELIVES ARE TRANSFORMED BY THE TIMELESS POWER OF A MSTERFUL NOVEL.
It's hard to imagine anyone wanting more than what's on this lovely, single disc. There are four newly produced segments: a talk with composer Philip Glass, a featurette on the three main actresses, a must-see 10-minute feature on the writer of the novel (Michael Cunningham) and the screenplay (David Hare), and a crisp half-hour history of Virginia Wolfe with many anecdotes from various scholars. There are two commentaries. Highly recommended is Cunningham with director Stephen Daldry as they go through the movie with a good sense of appreciation for each person's craft. Cunningham is quite charming in revealing the story's origins while Daldry makes even the smallest task of filmmaking interesting. Daldry's so detailed he apologizes for such seemingly trivial bits as filming the opening sequence at a different time of year than it actually happened. The main three actresses speak separately on the other commentary track, and even though fans will enjoy their insights, the energy is very low; perhaps they should have recorded the track together. Streep's deep laughs at her little jokes are very smile-inducing. --Doug Thomas
- Filmmakers introduction
- 4 featurettes:
- "Three Women"
- "The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf"
- "The Music of The Hours
- "The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway"
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Top Customer Reviews
As befits such a character-driven film, the acting in "The Hours" is uniformly superb. Meryl Streep is luminous throughout as Clarissa, but particularly shines in her final scenes as she welcomes a stranger into her home; and Julianne Moore brings a fascinating combination of fragility and power to the role of the repressed Laura. Toni Collette infuses her short scenes as Laura's friend and neighbor Kitty with a marvelous counterpoint to Moore's quiet introspection; Miranda Richardson is restrained Victorian perfection as Virginia Woolf's demure sister; and Ed Harris is achingly brilliant in the small but showy role of Clarissa's dying friend.
Among this handful of flawless characterizations, it is Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf who nonetheless stands out. She completely disappears into her role; although much comment has been made about Kidman's prosthetic nose and the way it completely changes her appearance, it is not makeup alone which transforms the vivacious actress into the dowdy authoress. Kidman uses her mouth and eyes with incredible economy: her bowed lips move without disturbing her pale, translucent cheeks; and her downturned, darting eyes communicate eloquently her character's sense of uneasy restlessness. Kidman's Virginia seems uncomfortable in her tall body, and her voice is dangerously strained. It's a transcendent performance, and one with which Kidman solidifies her growing reputation as one of her generation's most talented screen actresses.
The film is beautifully photographed in dark, muted hues; the sets appear just as they were described in Cunningham's hauntingly visual novel. While Philip Glass's score is at times a bit obtrusive, it nonetheless contibutes effectively to the atmosphere of the film. The most stunning technical achievement of the film is the wonderful costume design; clothing styles and fabrics have been painstakingly planned and executed, providing some subtle foreshadowing and highlighting of important themes and motifs thoughout the narrative. Costumer Ann Roth should definitely find herself in the running for an Oscar, as should Streep, Moore, Kidman, Harris, director Stephen Daldry, film editor Peter Boyle, and of course, the Picture itself. Altogether, "The Hours" is an outstanding film that provides an extraordinary cast ample and unique opportunities to shine, especially its formidable trio of leading ladies.
The 1920's story concerns Virginia Woolf's (Kidman) efforts to write her first successful novel, "Mrs. Dallaway"; which is the story of one day in the life of a woman named Clarissa Dallaway. The story set in the early 1950's concerns a Laura Brown (Moore) who is reading "Mrs. Dallaway". Finally the contemporary story concerns Clarissa Vaughn (Streep) who is essentially living Mrs. Dallaway's life in modern NYC. All three performances are extraordinary in their own unique ways and there are wonderful performances from all members of the supporting cast. It is as if each member of the ensemble brought out the best in each other.
Some interesting and not always obvious things to look for as you watch "The Hours" are:
Each story begins with the husband/lover of each woman leading the camera to the woman. All three women are found in bed and this begins a match cut process that will repeat itself throughout the film as the director and editor work to connect and unify the three separate stories. Woolf writes: "Mrs. Dallaway said she would buy the flowers herself" just as Laura Brown reads that sentence and Clarissa speaks that sentence.
Kidman's Woolf is an amazing character. She is a psychological mess, making life difficult for those around her and full of torment and despair. Yet she has a subtle charm that helps you to understand why people found her fascinating.
Like "The Big Chill", this is an ambitious character study film with many characters. By necessity, both films rely more on behavioral language than dialogue in revealing the personality of its characters. Note Laura Brown's (Moore) neatness obsession as she readies her house and herself prior to leaving for the hotel.
Woolf began the book "Mrs. Dallaway" with the intention of basing it on a society woman she knew who unexpectedly committed suicide. Brown describes the book to her neighbor as: "Oh, it's about this woman who's incredibly - well, she's a hostess and she's incredibly confident and she's going to give a party. And, maybe because she's confident, everyone thinks she's fine... but she isn't".
At its core this is a movie about art but it is a broad definition of art, writing a book-baking a cake-giving a party. Each woman/artist is driven and frustrated by a need for unattainable perfection. There is a touch of irony to each situation. For example, Laura Brown is where she is because her husband has pulled her into the great American dream without realizing that it was the worse thing he could do to her. Although all three women love their children/child/niece, those relationships do not give them what they need.
There is a visitor and a kiss in each story central to the self-definition process each woman is going through. Virginia kisses her sister Vanessa (brilliantly played by Miranda Richardson who looks amazingly like she could have been Kidman's sister), desperately trying to force a better connection with her. Vanessa understands this, she is not shocked by the kiss but by the implication that her sister needs this so desperately.
Sophie Wyburd who plays Virginia's young niece was obviously cast for her haunting voice and her ability to display such a focused intensity. Each woman has a child picking up on their needs, which the adults around them do not seem to be aware of.
Watch the scene where Laura's husband is urging her to come to bed. Moore's voice does not betray the revulsion or the internal struggle which only viewers can see on her face. In fact at this point each woman's partner is urging her to go to bed but each must first a make choice. Then watch for the great match cut, Virginia announces that she has decided that the poet will die in her novel and they cut to little Richard lying in his bed. Moore's expression finally tells us that she has decided to leave her family. Streep's kiss signifies her recognition of the preciousness of what she still has in her life and her choice to embrace it and move forward.
Ultimately this film is about the increasing difficulty we have as we get older in making choices. This is because as we discover who we are, we also experience loss and accumulate grief over the course of our lives, becoming ever more aware of the cost of our choices. Like the Moonlight Graham character in "Field of Dreams" (who assumed he would have more than one major league at bat), Clarissa looks back on a short moment that she thought was the beginning of happiness and realizes that it was her only moment of actual happiness.
There are some criticisms of this film. That it is not political enough but rather is for the elite and about the elite, or conversely that it is condescending to the masses with too obvious a message told in an unnecessarily simplistic way, and finally that it is a success of structure rather than ideas. Whatever the validity of these issues, the very fact that discussions are at this elevated level is the best testimonial the film could have. My only criticism was a production design issue (young Richard gets his Lincoln logs out of a Erector Set box).
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hated this pile of rubbish.