Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Written by:David Hare
Starring: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Ed Harris, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney
Released: February 20, 2003
Grade: B

I’ll acknowledge there are a large majority who are claiming The Hours as one of the year’s best.  The Golden Globe win for best drama and actress win for Nicole Kidman enough proof.  Yet I can only look at a film from my own background and experiences and to me, the film was a tedious drama that cannot express the messages it aims to.

Nicole Kidman is Virigina Woolf, a writer living near London who suffers from depression.  It’s 1923 and her loving husband is trying valiantly, with the help of doctors, to cure his wife’s illness.  She has twice tried to take her life without success.  Virigina is now writing a novel called Mrs. Dalloway and has arranged a tea-party with her sister, Vanessa (Richardson) at 4pm.

Julianne Moore is Laura Brown, a mother who does not love her husband (Reilly) nor 9 year-old-son.  It’s 1951 and crumpled with the realisation she is a homosexual, she struggles to maintain the facade that is her marriage.  In this repressed era, she cannot bear the torment any longer.  It is her husband’s birthday and after baking him a cake for their small family party, she drives to a hotel.  There she reads a novel, Mrs. Dalloway, before deciding to take her own life.

Meryl Streep is Clarissa Vaughan, a wealthy woman living in a same-sex relationship with her girlfriend, Sally (Janney).  It’s 2001 and Clarissa pays a morning visit to the man she was once married, Richard Brown (Harris), who nicknamed her Mrs. Dalloway.  Richard was a very successful poet but contracted AIDS and now suffers as he lives out his final months.  In the afternoon, Brown is to be honoured with a special award so the emotional Clarissa is preparing a post-celebration party where all his close friends will be invited.

Three women in three different time frames with the film showing a single pivotal day in their lives.  Each with a common link to the fictional character of Mrs. Dalloway.  Each with a link to a homosexual relationship.  Each having to deal with a different cause to suicide.  As expected, this beautifully woven was adapted from a novel.  Written by Michael Cunningham only two years ago, The Hours, has been adapted for the screen by David Hare and it is here where I believe the film suffers material flaws.

Whilst I believe critics who acclaim the novel as a work of art, I didn’t feel the same about the cinematic adaptation.  Apart from the three leading ladies, the numerous supporting cast members were unexplored and for many, unexplained.  They seemed to drift in and out with little purpose.  If I’d read the novel, I’m sure I would have understood and adored this production but not having done so, I was left well and truly out in the cold.  I was confused as to where these characters fitted into the picture and instead of appreciating the message, I was battling to keep up.

The acting itself is of high quality with Meryl Streep gaining the most screen time and easily delivering the best performance.  Julianne Moore intentionally bland demeanour is over exaggerated and Nicole Kidman’s small role is gather more attention than it should thanks to a prosthetic nose.  Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) creatively intertwines the stories but is let down by the screenplay’s inability to make it’s point.