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Customer Review

167 of 179 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Cast in Their Finest "Hours", January 17, 2003
An intelligent and lyrical film adaptation of Michael Cunningham's exquisite Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the ways in which any person's life can be drastically altered during the course of a seemingly normal day. The story cuts back and forth between three women's stories: in 1923, novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is writing her novel "Mrs. Dalloway" while recuperating from a mental breakdown; in 1950's Los Angeles, housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is reading Woolf's book and feeling a growing sense of desperation about her bland suburban existence; and in 2001 New York, middle-aged Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is planning a party to honor a dying friend (Ed Harris) who has referred to her by the nickname "Mrs. Dalloway" since their youthful affair many years previously. Like Cunningham's book, the film spins all three stories simultaneously, pointing out the similarities and differences between each of the women's lives; and then finally ties all three threads together in a spectacularly clever and thought-provoking twist that reveals the larger pattern of the plot (some audiences members in the theatre where I saw the film actually gasped aloud as they began to understand).
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.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 3, 2007 8:03:37 PM PDT
What an awful (yet hilarious) pun!

Posted on Dec 18, 2011 3:41:11 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2011 3:42:27 AM PST
I started watching several minutes into the film and stopped switching channels, Looked up Virginia on Wikipedia, and came here to see the reviews. YES "it is Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf who nonetheless stands out. She completely disappears into her role" I did not know who the actress was until this sentence. YES if you want a review, good, but see the movie and you may find your own REVIEW is better. Inner Directed or Outer Directed, see the movie. Love is almost always better portrayed by a woman, but to see Mr. Wolf at the train station is love personified. HarOLD

Posted on May 8, 2016 7:59:14 PM PDT
Mac says:
Michael, just wanted to tell you - as a pro writer - what a well-written review you left. It's rare on Amazon, where reviews range from 1-2 sentences that say nothing, to long rambling tomes that give away the entire plot and leave you still wondering what the author's personal impressions were. You did not bore your audience with a blow-by-blow summary, but just left enough to give the viewer an overall idea of the plot and structure; you then fully explained your own impressions of the film, and added in some of the film's accolades. Really excellent. Left me wondering if you've ever reviewed books or films for pay (as I have..). If not, you should.
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Location: Pineville, Missouri, USA

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