The Hours – Film Review

Director: Stephen Daldry

Writer: David Hare

Starring: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Stephen Dillane, Allison Janney, John C. Reilly, and Miranda Richardson

The 2002 film The Hours, which is written by David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry, is based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham. The Hours was also the working title for Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. The film follows three different women throughout a single day of their lives at different points in time and are all connected by Woolf’s novel.

In the 1920s Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is writing the novel, while struggling with her own mental health and depression. In 1950s America, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is reading the novel while on the side is seemingly living perfect life. And in 2001 Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) shares her first name with the protagonist of the novel and is trying to arrange a party for a close friend, writer Richard Brown (Ed Harris), who is suffering with aids.

Each of the stories, like the novel Mrs Dalloway, take place in a single day. At first it feels like they’re completely unrelated, set in different time periods and locations, but as you get deeper into each story you start realise the connections. They’re all struggling with mental health, in different ways, and they’re growing older and losing ‘hours’. It really drives home the point that Woolf’s work is timeless and universal. It’s a very bleak and almost harrowing film, that has small moments of hope sprinkled within. At first the style is a little jarring, with the three stories bouncing around, but once it all settles in, then it all clicks together.

All of the performances are simply brilliant. Every cast member is spellbinding, with an incredible cast. It’s incredibly easy to connect with each of the characters. The three leads are phenomenal, but what else would you expect from Kidman, Moore, and Streep.  Nicole Kidman won the Oscar for best actress, and Ed Harris and Julianne Moore were both nominated for best supporting actor and actress, but the entire cast is worthy of either award. They’re all magnificent. Even the smaller part like John C. Reilly, who plays Laura’s husband, stands out. He’s living this perfect American life, with his perfect wife, but there’s something broken about it. It’s too perfect, and you know there’s something underneath, he doesn’t seem to notice the struggle that Laura is going through at all.

The Hours is a gripping story about depression, it’s bleak and somewhat life affirming. The performances are excellent, and while this isn’t something you’ll want to watch over and over again, it should be watched at least once.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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