Based on the novel by Michael Cunningham, The Hours follows a day in the life of three women, separated by time, but not by life experience. This DVD was one that we inherited from my husband’s mother, one of only two she had in her house (the other was Chicago). After watching it, I wonder what she liked about the story, and if she received it as a gift or bought it herself.
The film depicts a time in the life of the author Virginia Woolf; the other two women portrayed are fictional. Virginia (Nicole Kidman) lives in the countryside of England. She is writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway. Plagued by periods of depression, her husband Leonard (Stephen Dillane) worries about her, fearing she will attempt suicide yet again, having tried twice already.
In 1951, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) lives in suburban Los Angeles. She has a son not yet in school, is pregnant and reading Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. Her husband Dan (John C. Reilly) is unaware of her unhappiness. Her only friend appears to be Kitty (Toni Colette), who visits her on the day she is baking a birthday cake for her husband.
A few decades later in 2001, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is hosting a party for her good friend Richard (Ed Harris). He is a poet being honored for his work. He is also very ill and depressed. The film is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some disturbing images, and brief language.
The musical score by Philip Glass is hauntingly beautiful. His music fits well in the film, tying the women’s lives together beautifully. Nicole Kidman won an Academy Award for Best Actress playing the esteemed author Virginia Woolf. She looks very different with her makeup that changed the shape of her nose. She probably looks more like Virginia wearing the prosthetic nose.
I watched three of the special features on the DVD: The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf, Three Women, and The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway. All served to inform and stimulate my thinking about the writers across the decades: Virginia; the novelist; and the screenwriter.
I confess I have not read anything by Virginia Woolf. I have added her novel A Room of One’s Own to my reading list, and plan to read it soon. Michael Cunningham said his reading of Mrs. Dalloway at the age of fifteen was a moment that changed him. He was later inspired to write The Hours incorporating Virginia’s work Mrs. Dalloway into the stories of the three women across the years. David Hare did a wonderful job as screenwriter to this tale that weaves the women’s experiences together.
The Hours is more of a literary film and one that will probably keep you thinking afterwards. There are surprises in this film that will give you some aha! moments, and of course I won’t give these away. I highly recommend The Hours to you. I’m going to gift the DVD to someone I think may appreciate it.