"It would be all too precious to watch except for the brilliant performances, which make it too wonderful not to watch."
Julianne Moore is brilliant as Laura Brown in The Hours
Australia's Nicole Kidman as noelist Virginia Woolf
Three great actress's - Three great roles
Mention the name Nicole Kidman and you immediately evoke a reaction or two. I remember the battle of opinions that raged over her talents when people were discussing that remarkable Baz Luhrmann film "Moulin Rouge". Nicole had suddenly gained popularity status. Her star was burning brightly and all the world loved her. It was as popular to praise her performance in the lead role of the beautiful courtesan Satine as is was to knock her for it. But then that's the aussie way isn't it. We do the same to our sporting stars. We worship them like the gods, we speak endlessly about their feats, until they get too big for comfort, and then we hit them with the old 'tall poppie' syndrome. It's a national pass-time. Those heady days of "Moulin Rouge" saw it bearing its full weight down on our girl Nicole. She can't sing, she can't act, she's too skinny and heaven forbid, as some pointed out, her boobs aren't big enough. My theory is that it's because she's a red-head and a beautiful one at that. It's threatening to some people. "Moulin Rouge" did a lot for Nicole, a lot more than any other film she had previously appeared in. Her performances in films like "Days of Thunder", "Far and Away", "Billy Bathgate" and "Dead Calm" were good enough but "Moulin Rouge" really got her noticed. "Moulin Rouge" was followed by "The Others", a ghostly tale in which Nicole played Grace, a mother of two children living in a large Victorian Mansion on the Ilse of Wright in 1945. This was followed by the comedy "Birthday Girl" in which she played a Russian internet bride named Sophia. Not a big film but one that helped her diverse a litlle more. Nicole has a busy schedule working on these upcoming films, The Human Stain, Dogville and Cold Mountain then into 2004 with The Stepford Wives and Alexander the Great.
There's no doubting Meryl Streep is is probably the greatest actress of the modern era if not the greatest actress of all-time. Nominated for twelve academy awards Streep is a joy to watch on the screen. She has become an icon to women all round the world who aspire to not only the profession of acting but in a wide variety of industries where women continue to make inroads these days. Heck, anyone who would come down under and play the part of Lindy Chamberlain in the controversial film "Evil Angel" has to have 'balls'. It was a gutsy move but that's Streeps style, a role is there to be played. Like the time she was asked whether she thought Madonna should play the lead in "Evita" instead of her, she is reported to have replied, "I can sing better than she can. If Madonna gets it, I'll rip her throat out!" Now that takes guts. Although Madonna did get the "Evita" role Streep would later replace her in the 1999 film "Music of the Heart". Over the years Streep has kept us entertained in some wonderful roles. I remember the first time I saw her in that remarkable film "The Deer Hunter". That film launched a couple of people to stardom, didn't it. In 1979 it was "Kramer vs Kramer" and her first Oscar at the Academy Awards. Her next nomination came with "The French Lieutenant's Woman" but Streep would have to wait another year to win her second oscar this time for Best Actress in the 1982 film "Sophie's Choice" An actress who can handle any role and any character it seems, Streep has gone on to appear in a number of great films including "Silkwood", "Postcards From the Edge", "Out of Africa", "The Bridges of Madison County" with Clint Eastwood and "Ironweed" with Jack Nicholson to those brave comedy roles in "Death Becomes Her" and "Defending Your Life". The list and variety of roles and accomplishments is enormous. Her current films are "Adaptation" and of course "The Hours". It goes without saying that in both these films Streep is brilliantly believeable.
Julliane Moore 'is' a star and a face growing more familiar to film fans with each and every appearance. Most would remember he as the actress who replaced Jodie Foster as FBI Agent Clarice Starling. Moores career started on the small screen in the soapie "As The World Turns", a role which won her an Emmy Award and which she appeared in between 1985 and 1988. In 1990 she debuted in "Tales From the Darkside". This was followed by another well known shock thriller "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle", then a change of direction with the comedy "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag". Then came some biggies like "The Fugitive", "Safe", "Nine Months", "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and "Boogie Nights". There was no stopping her now and Moore went on to appear in "The Big Lebowski", "An Ideal Husband", "The End of the Affair", "Hannibal" with Sir Anthony Hopkins, "The Shipping News with Kevin Spacey and Dame Judith dench" to her current releases "The Hours" and the masterful production "Far From Heaven".
The Story
Meryl Streep stars as Clarissa Vaughn the modern day Mrs Dalloway
Ed Harris is brilliant as the dying poet Richard
"Ms. Kidman, in a performance of astounding bravery, evokes the savage inner war waged by a brilliant mind against a system of faulty wiring that transmits a searing, crazy static into her brain."
Stephen Holden, NEW YORK TIMES
The muliti layered film "The Hours" spans three periods of time. In the 1920's Virginia Woolf is battling to keep a grip on herself, her husband and her life. In the 1950's Laura Brown is pregnant and depressed. Her world is growing darker by the hour. She is comptemplating ending it all. Meantime in the year 2002 Clarissa Vaughan is facing the prospect of losing her dear friend Richard, a gay poet who is dying of AIDS. All three women are searching for something that will bring a sense of purpose and real meaning to their steadily growing darker lives. The meaning of life and the purpose it should inspire is fast deserting each of them in the face of what it seems is insurmountable obstacles. Woolf, encouraged to write by her husband Leonard fights to finish her book "Mrs. Dalloway." in the face of her growing insanity and her drive to 'end it all'. Laura Brown meantime is reading Woolf's novel and it only serves to bring her closer to the brink of self destruction. In the 21st century everything is going from bad to worse for Clarissa Vaughan. Richard is proving far from co-operative in his last hours. She has become his "Mrs. Dalloway.". As their lives become further entangled and the darkness decends, each is faced with their own personal demons. Their fates are in their own hands. Who will have the strength, the courage to step out into the light and to fight for life.
The Verdict
" A film that deserves the highest of praise and the grandest of recommendations. "The Hours" is an enriching experience indeed. Moore, Kidman and Streep all deliver powerful performances and Harris is masterful as Richard. While the subject material may at times appear dark and threatening, the central characters are so rich, so hauntingly beautiful and so unforgettable it is not hard to be swept away by the power of "The Hours".
John C Reilly stars as Dan Brown in The Hours
Claire Daines and Meryl Streep in The Hours
What The Critics Say
"Blessed with exquisite performances and seamless cross-cutting between historical time periods, Stephen Daldry's superbly crafted chronicle examines depression, disaster and death."
"Considerable intelligence and strategic finesse have been brought to bear on this handsomely mounted adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel."
Todd McCarthy VARIETY
"Hare's crisp screenplay adroitly ... keeps faith with Cunningham's meditative prose while adding enough unobtrusive exposition to externalize the characters' emotional lives."
Ella Taylor LA WEEKLY
"Mr Daldry and Mr Hare have succeeded in preserving and even enhancing both the episodic structure and the spiritual essence of the Pulitzer Prize winning Cunningham novel."
"Rarely does such high-profile talent serve such literate material."
"For a movie audience, The Hours doesn't connect in a neat way, but introduces characters who illuminate mysteries of sex, duty and love."
"A fascinating and ultimately successful stunt in its cross-cutting among the decades."
"You don't just love the movie for its structure but for the haunted people in it, making each other miserable, but forcing each other to face who they are."
"Like the best literature, it stays with you long after its conclusion."
Claudia Puig USA TODAY
"The three leads offer typically strong performances, but the supporting cast ... is stellar."
Darrin Keene FILM THREAT
The Cast & Crew
Nicole Kidman with The Hours director Stephen Daldry
Meryl Streep
Julianne Moore
Nicole Kidman
Ed Harris
Eileen Atkins
Toni Collette
Christian Coulson
Claire Danes
Stephen Dillane
Allison Janney
Charley Ramm
John C Reilly
Miranda Richardson
Kate Super
Clarissa Vaughn
Laura Brown
Virginia Woolf
Leonard Woolf
Julian Bell
Dan Brown
Vanessa Bell
Young Clarissa Vaughn
Adapted from Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Hours"
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Screenplay by Philip Glass
Original Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey BSC
Film Editing by Peter Boyle
Casting by Patsy Pollock & Daniel Swee
Production Design by Maria Djurkovic
Costume Design by Ann Roth
Run Time 114 minutes
Rated TBA [AUST]
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