Jun 19, 2012

The Hours [2002]




Directed by Stephen Daldry and based on a novel by Michael Cunningham, with a screenplay penned by David Hare, The Hours is a remarkable movie starring three women (Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep) connected by a book, Mrs Dalloway, who have to overcome the trails and tribulations of a single day that may change their lives forever.

We start by observing Nicole Kidman's storyline, who stars as Virginia Woolf, an unstable woman in the care of numerous doctors and under the supervision of her husband, Leonard, played by Stephen Dillane. She is mentally disturbed, while having hallucinations and suicide thoughts. That morning, she begins to write her book, Mrs Dalloway, and spends the day figuring it out the plot line and trying to overcome overwhelming emotions of depression and boredom, feeling she was trapped in that small town where everyone considered it to be better for her than London. Nicole Kidman was absolutely fantastic, giving a stunning performance- the accent was on point and you can easily see the great transformation pshycally and mentally. She won an Oscar for this role and I believe it was well deserved, although I don't know her competitors in the category from that year. The husband also gave a surprisingly good performance, which was reserved, but full of love and concern, and it was nice to see Miranda Richardson as the sister.

The second story follows Laura McGrath- Brown, a seemingly happy wife and mother of one, plus one on the way, living in 1951 Los Angeles. Although she has a good life, a loving husband(John C.Reilly) and a lovely boy, she is miserable in her apparently perfect life, for reasons even she can't understand. Laura grows more nervous as the day passes and even books a room in a hotel with the thought of killing herself, but somehow she changes her mind and returns to her family. The boy notices something is wrong , he can feel it, especially when he starts screaming from the top of his lungs when she leaves him at the neighbour's house. The interesting part of the story comes at then end when we see the connection between Julianne Moore's character and Streep's. Throughout the movie, Julianne Moore shines and gives a stunning performance, quiet, but appealing and emotional, and makes you feel everything her character is feeling. I was very impressed by her in this role.

Clarissa Vaughan, the third woman, wakes up in New York, year 2001, with the thought that she will buy the flowers for the party she is throwing her very good friend, Richard, an accomplised writer. During the day we discover that the connection between the two is very powerful and has deep roots from their early teenage years. He is dying of AIDS, but she won't let him go, to say so, holding on to the hope and the strong relationship they have. Ed Harris, as the sick man, was fantasic, and gave a chilling, moving performance of a man in search of peace and love. The reveal of his connection with the previous story was a little bit shocking, but gave us more details and made us better understand the situation. His last scene with Streep was breathtaking and very emotional and I love the speech he gave. Claire Danes also has a short appearance, showing a careless, sweet and free youthful energy, and of course, Allison Janey is part of the cast- I love her and she's not disappointing, either, despite her small part. Suprisingly enough, from my point of view, Meryl was the weakest link between the three leads- she didn't do anything wrong, but I didn't feel her spirit and commitment as much as the other two, although the scene in the kitchen with Jeff Daniels, her breakdown, was quite something.

From the filmmaking point of view, The Hours is close to perfection. I loved the simple style of direction, which helped us focus more on the story and its characters. Although you do see some interesting elements regarding camera movement, like a special focus on details (eggs), or flawless cinematography, it's the screenplay and the acor's performance that shines through. Every scene is perfectly executed and draws you in; the music, together with the sets and costumes, are absolutely stunning and they capture and emote the emotions of the story. Overall, it mixes the drama with the music and the beautiful language and the rough feelings and unsaid things, creating a sad, yet bittersweet world.

Somehow, I associate The Hours with a A Single Man, by Tom Ford. The connection is made in my mind, maybe by the similarities in stories, characters or direction. A Single Man is one of my all-time favorite movies and I can say now that The Hours is also added to that category. Beautiful film that you should definitely see!

Favorite quotes
"Mrs Dalloway, always giving parties to cover the silence"
"But I still have to face the hours, don't I?"

14 comments:

  1. Oh wow, love that you connected it with A Single Man. I can totally see that. I think Streep was perfect in her role. She is the culmination of what both Woolf and Laura could not be, but she is still not happy. I love her scenes with Jeff Daniels and Ed Harris.

    Kidman and Moore as as amazing as always. I love the look, and the sound of this film. It just hits me on so many levels. It is a beautiful film, really.

    Good review.

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    1. I never thought about it like that, but you are right, Streep's character is, somehow, a culmination of the other two women!

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  2. I once borrowed this one from the library, and when I opened the case I saw somebody had put the soundtrack inside it, instead of the DVD. It sucked.
    So I never saw this movie, but if it's as great as A Single Man I will have to see it.

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    1. That happened to me once, too. Get it again, it's worth it :)

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  3. I've been curious about this one to see Kidman's performance, but I realize now the cast is astounding. Great review, Diana, sounds like this film has everything, from style, great story, music, etc. I'll be sure to check this out.

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    1. Please do, I think you might like it!

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  4. I'm sorry but I found the film to be boring. I couldn't get into it at all. Plus, I was annoyed by the direction which doesn't really seem to do anything but be meticulous and such. It's one of the things that makes me despise Stephen Daldry as I think he's nothing more than an overrated hack who just wants to make overwrought Oscar-bait films like The Reader and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I liked the performances but I just couldn't get into the story.

    Plus, I think there were better performances that year and Nicole Kidman only won because she didn't win for Moulin Rouge!.

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    1. I get your point and I do agree that most of his movies are Oscar baits, but some of them are really good, and I personally, liked both Hours and Reader!

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  5. Not to pile on, but I'm afraid the movie didn't do much for me, either. There's only so much suicidal thoughts/scenes I can watch before I am ready for something else to happen. This is one of those films where I made myself finish watching it because it was a Best Picture nominee. Sorry.

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    1. No problem, I get it, it's not for everyone! I sometimes get bored at Best Picture nominees, too!

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  6. Love this movie! Everyone gave such fantastic performances, especially the three leading ladies. Love the music by Philip Glass too, truly unforgettable score. I agree about similarities to A Single Man, especially because of the theme of lonelinees and all the secrets the characters are harboring.

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    1. The score was fantastic, one of my favorite things in the movie!

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  7. I can't believe this movie is ten years old already. I saw it when it first was released and I remember thinking it was great. Your thoughts here have made me want to watch it again. Thanks for your review!

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    1. Thanks! yeah, you should give it a try again, soo!

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