Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Hours

Movie Name: The Hours
Year of Release: 2002
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Stephen Dillane, Ed Harris, Jeff Daniels, Toni Collette, Allison Janey, Claire Danes, Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale, Linda Bassett, Jack Rovello
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

Stephen Daldry stepped into the film directorial world with the astounding success of "Billy Elliot", which garnered him his first Academy Award nomination. Following that film, he quickly returned with "The Hours", an adaptation of the book by Michael Cunningham, which was a huge critical darling of the year, and was again nominated for a multitude of awards. The film takes place in three different time periods, but each one has a common thread that harks back to Virginia Woolf and her novel "Mrs. Dalloway". Also each of the segments takes place during one day, but the film also unveils the connection that some of the choices these characters make has on different person's lives (and across times). The first segment takes place in 1923 as Virginia Woolf starts writing "Mrs. Dalloway" and is dealing with the challenges of her mental health and her marriage to Leonard Woolf. The second segment takes place in Los Angeles, in 1951, where Laura Brown, a married and pregnant housewife, is trying to cope with the realities of her life, and how that has actually become an extension of her ambitions and dreams (or not). She tries to bake a birthday cake with her young son for her husband, and as her day progresses, she tries to figure out what to do with her life. The third segment takes place in present times, where Clarissa Vaughan (a modern embodiment of Mrs. Dalloway) is throwing a party for her friend (and former lover), the renowned poet Richard (who is also dying). During her day, as people come and go through her life, Clarissa is forced to examine her current relationships, and also the ones who have shaped who she is.
"The Hours" is a finely tuned film detailing the relationships that are maintained from the complex lives of these fascinating women that are at the center of the film. Under the mantle of Virginia Woolf's life and oeuvre, the film expands that universe, by creating multiple threads that deal with longing, ambitions, love and resentment, that touch this diverse array of characters. It's a film that smartly navigates all three timelines highlighting both similar traits that these women share, but also amplifying how times have widened their choices allowing them to sketch their paths and options in life. It's a rewarding film, heavily anchored on a very talented cast, with all actresses creating indelible performances, including the superlative Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, but also in smaller roles, Miranda Richardson, Toni Collette. Their male counterparts equally excel, from Stephen Dillane to the always underrated Jeff Daniels. The score from Philip Glass is stunning as is the cinematography from Seamus McGarvey. A very good film worth watching.