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Cass' review of
The Hours


The Hours (2002)
Rated PG-13; running time 114 minutes
Genre: Romantic Drama
Written by: David Hare (based on the novel by Michael Cunningham)
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Stephen Dillane, Toni Collette, John C. Reilly, Miranda Richardson, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels, Jack Rovello, Claire Danes, Charley Ramm, Eileen Aktkins

Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2003

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"You can't find peace by avoiding life." - Virginia Woolf

CASS' CLIP (WARNING: **spoilers below**)
The year is 1923 and the setting is in Richmond, England. Meet Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), a gifted writer, and the childless wife of book publisher, Leonard Woolf (Stephen Dillane). Leonard has moved Virginia from London's busy streets to the quiet countryside because Virginia's doctors believe the change of scenery may help her better cope with her severe bouts of depression. On this particular day, Virginia is expecting her sister, Vanessa (Miranda Richardson), and her three children to arrive for a visit. While waiting for their arrival, Virginia sits down to write her new novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Mrs. Dalloway's plot focuses on the details surrounding one specific day wherein Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party. Virginia writes the opening sentence, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

The year is 1951 and the setting is in Los Angeles, California. Meet Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), the housewife of retired World War II veteran, Dan Brown (John C. Reilly), and mother of a very clingy and sensitive young son, Richie (Jack Rovello). Pregnant with her second child, Laura is also coping with unexplained bouts of depression. [Anyone pregnant woman can tell you how their hormones plays havoc on their emotions]. In celebration of her husband's birthday, Laura tells Dan that she and Richie will bake him a cake. But no amount of cake baking can help Laura hide her feigned happiness or conceal her outward appearance of being a caring mother or dutiful wife. Dan is oblivious to Laura's state of mind, but Richie acutely aware of his mother's bewildered sense of unhappiness. After baking the first of two cakes (the first cake was lopsided), Laura receives and unexpected visit from her neighbor, Kitty (Toni Collette). Despite the fact that Kitty tells her that she's having surgery the next day to have a suspicious growth removal from her uterus, Laura seems more concerned about her own sense of melancholy. Also, on this particular day, Laura begins reading Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway.

The year is 2001 and the setting is in New York. Meet Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), a 50-something New York book editor. On this particular day, Clarissa is hosting a party honoring her ex-lover, Richard (Ed Harris), who has received a prestigious award for his book of poetry. Clarissa, and her live-in partner of ten years, Sally (Allison Janney), are tiptoeing around their own relationship issues. While Sally is afraid to rock the boat, Clarissa is still searching for the happiness she once experienced back when she and Richard were both young and hopeful about their futures. With the future now present, Clarissa spends her days editing books, contemplating her relationship with Sally, taking care of her college-age daughter, Julia, (Claire Danes), and caring for Richard, who is dying of AIDS. Before Clarissa leaves the house to visit Richard (more to convince him to attend his own party), Clarissa yells to her lover, "Sally, I think I'll buy the flowers myself."

It is those written words, then read words, and then spoken words, that the lives of these three not-so different women - Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown and Clarissa Vaughn - are forever linked by the hours they spend searching for something they failed to recognize they already had.

DA 411
Let me apologize ahead of time for being so vague in my description of this film. I simply want those who do see The Hours to enjoy every moment of this film without my usual detailed commentary. The opening sequence in The Hours replays itself differently several times throughout the movie as well as at the end. Therefore, I'll leave the beautifully choreographed beginning and shocking ending for you to enjoy.

Based on Michael Cunningham's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Hours, focuses on a trio of women, and how the choices these three women made on one specific day, profoundly altered their lives and those who loved them. [From the moment I wake up each day, I prepare myself for the "What if's" of the day, and I pray that I make the right choices].

David Hare's screenplay, Stephen Daldry's direction, Maria Djurkovic's production design, Ann Roth's custom design, Seamus McGarvey's cinematography, Peter Boyle's film editing, and Philip Glass' original score, meticulously bring to life Michael Cunningham's characters in The Hours. The intertwining manner in which the lives of these three women are repetitively synchronized only highlights the outstanding performances of Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore.

Of the seven Golden Globe nominations, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress (for Streep and Kidman) Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score, The Hours won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture Drama and Nicole Kidman for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. If this is any hint, this is definitely a prelude of what to except to the Academy Awards.

Although it may take me days to filter through all of the many subliminal messages in The Hours, I recommend you see it simply for its pure cinematic artistry.

THE HOURS:   green

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Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2003

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed week of 1/17/03):
Cass' reviews:
The Hours | National Security
Standing In The Shadows Of Motown | Frida

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