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The Hours

Starring: Nicole Kidman. Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Miranda Richardson, John C Reilly, and Toni Collette
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Written by: Michael Cunningham(novel)&David Hare (screenplay)
Rated: R

 

The Hours is one of the most touching films ever made; in terms of the acting. That's because of the remarkable cast. It's an ensemble of a few of the finest living actors in the world - so what's not to love?

The Hours, however, is also one of the most depressing films one could ever see. The characters are each subtley affected by novelist Virginia Wolfe's work, "Mrs. Dalloway". They live in the same emotionally void realm as Mrs. Dalloway, and seem to be in a perpetual state of morbid depression. Of course none more so than Virginia Wolfe herself, played impeccably by Nicole Kidman.

We meet Virginia as she has made the ultimate decision to take her own life. Demons that dance about in her head - and of course she lived before the days of self-medicating the blues away - orchestrate her final requiem. Unable to cope with her perpetual unhappiness she drowns herself…

Then the film cuts to the future and we meet Laura (Julianne Moore), a housewife in the fifties, who doubts her own place on Earth. She's very pregnant and very depressed. Her husband (John C. Reilly) is oblivious to her melancholy; her young son (Jack Rovello) is not.

We skip ahead in time again to a swanky New York abode helmed by Clarissa (Meryl Streep). Clarissa has the sad duty of watching her beloved friend Richard (Ed Harris) waste away from AIDs.

You getting the picture? Frankly, so filled with the human condition is The Hours, it makes several Eugene O'Neill plays look like Noel Coward pieces.

But as sadly realistic and knock-the-wind-out-of-your-sails as it is , you can't help but be mesmerized by the performances. Ed Harris was rail thin and had my heart firmly in mid throat throughout each syllable uttered. Meryl Streep was just… just…. tortured. Who hasn't cried over a wrong word that triggered some flash of under emotion? I still can't bear to be in a room where anyone wears Old Spice or I am reminded Dad's gone forever and immediately ball. Nicole Kidman, who is unrecognizable beneath a prosthetic nose, delivers us Virginia Wolfe as many have drawn her in their own minds. The performance, is in a word, stunning. Then there's the great Julianne Moore. Her housewife is so still, so motionless, and yet she bellows her presence in volumes that still rings in the head a week later.

The Hours is acting at its finest. The film is not for all - it has no comedic relief whatsoever! And certainly should come with a warning for those already on the brink of depression…but for fans of "the craft?" Run don't walk to see this spectacular film.

Snack recommendation: Chocolate cake and lots and lots of expensive Merlot from Balducci's


 

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