Virginia Woolf is writing the novel. Laura Brown is reading the novel. Clarissa Vaughn is living a life similar to Mrs. Dalloway's in the novel. The movie shows a day in each of these women's lives just as the novel covers a single day in Mrs. Dalloway's life.
Review by Darrel Manson


This page was created on January 6, 2002
This page was last updated on April 9, 2003

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Directed by Stephen Daldry
Novel by Michael Cunningham
Screenplay by David Hare

Nicole Kidman .... Virginia Woolf
Julianne Moore .... Laura Brown
Meryl Streep .... Clarissa Vaughan
Stephen Dillane .... Leonard Woolf
Miranda Richardson .... Vanessa Bell
Charley Ramm .... Julian Bell
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Eileen Atkins .... Barbara at the Flower Shop
Linda Bassett .... Nelly Boxall
Daniel Brocklebank .... Rodney
Toni Collette .... Kitty
Christian Coulson .... Ralph Partridge
Michael Culkin .... Doctor
Claire Danes .... Julia Vaughan
Jeff Daniels .... Louis Waters
Carmen De Lavallade .... Clarissa's Neighbor
Ed Harris .... Richard Brown
Allison Janney .... Sally Lester
Margo Martindale .... Mrs. Latch
John C. Reilly .... Dan Brown
Jack Rovello .... Ritchie
Colin Stinton .... Hotel Clerk
Kate Super .... Young Clarissa Vaughn

Produced by
Robert Fox .... producer
Mark Huffam .... executive producer
Ian MacNeil .... associate producer
Scott Rudin .... producer
Marieke Spencer .... associate producer

Original Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey
Film Editing by Peter Boyle
Casting by Patsy Pollock and Daniel Swee
Production Design by Maria Djurkovic
Art Direction by, Nick Palmer, Mark Raggett and Judy Rhee
Set Decoration by Philippa Hart, Barbara Peterson, Harriet Zucker
Costume Design by Ann Roth

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some disturbing images and brief language.
Runtime: 114 min

For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

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CD InfoThe Hours (Score)
Philip Glass

How better to score a movie that takes place in three tangentially related time periods than with music that strives for timelessness? The hallmarks of Philip Glass's minimalism serve The Hours well. The film, based on Michael Cunningham's novel, tells the stories of three women--Virginia Woolf in the early 1920s, a housewife just after World War II, and a book editor in the present--whose days relate in different ways to Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway. Yet rather than construct a sonic montage of these three time periods (perhaps some Ravel for Woolf, some Max Steiner for the housewife, some Enya for the editor), Hours producer Scott Rudin turned to Glass, a contemporary-classical composer who has had a substantial side career in film, most notably with Koyaanisqatsi. The familiar Glass sounds--the endlessly layered violins, the static melodies, the glacial rhythms--all lend a consistent aural foundation to a story that moves fluidly back and forth in time. The music is scored for orchestra, string quartet, and piano. Those plentiful strings lend a thick cushion, a triumph of tonal suspension, for the piano part, which Michael Riesman plays coolly, emphasizing what are often single notes separated by thoughtful silences, as well as short sets of scales cascading in slow motion. Not only will these compositional themes be familiar to fans of Glass's work, so too will several of the melodies. Some sections of the score are derived from his albums Glassworks and Solo Piano and from his opera Satyagraha--which, incidentally, involved the stories of three legendary men active in different eras. --Marc Weidenbaum.

Album Description
The superb orchestral music for this powerfully affecting film is by Philip Glass, whose spellbinding 1999 score for Martin Scorcese's Kundun (also on Nonesuch) added an aura of portent and sweep that contributed significantly to the film's impact. The film stars Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman & Ed Harris. Slipcase. 2002


The Hours
27 in x 40 in

Original Poster plain, or
Framed | Mounted

BOOK Hours
by Michael Cunningham

The Hours is both an homage to Virginia Woolf and very much its own creature. Even as Michael Cunningham brings his literary idol back to life, he intertwines her story with those of two more contemporary women. One gray suburban London morning in 1923, Woolf awakens from a dream that will soon lead to Mrs. Dalloway. In the present, on a beautiful June day in Greenwich Village, 52-year-old Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party for her oldest love, a poet dying of AIDS. And in Los Angeles in 1949, Laura Brown, pregnant and unsettled, does her best to prepare for her husband's birthday, but can't seem to stop reading Woolf. These women's lives are linked both by the 1925 novel and by the few precious moments of possibility each keeps returning to. Clarissa is to eventually realize:

There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined.... Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.

As Cunningham moves between the three women, his transitions are seamless. One early chapter ends with Woolf picking up her pen and composing her first sentence, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." The next begins with Laura rejoicing over that line and the fictional universe she is about to enter. Clarissa's day, on the other hand, is a mirror of Mrs. Dalloway's--with, however, an appropriate degree of modern beveling as Cunningham updates and elaborates his source of inspiration. Clarissa knows that her desire to give her friend the perfect party may seem trivial to many. Yet it seems better to her than shutting down in the face of disaster and despair. Like its literary inspiration, The Hours is a hymn to consciousness and the beauties and losses it perceives. It is also a reminder that, as Cunningham again and again makes us realize, art belongs to far more than just "the world of objects." --Kerry Fried


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Click to enlargeThe period drama "The Hours" simultaneously follows the stories of three different women in three different time periods. One revolves around the depressed Virginia Woolf battling the onset of depression while writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway. The other two stories detail a housewife in L.A during the year 1949 and a present day woman throwing a party for a friend with AIDS. The story is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Michael Cunningham, which was written in high praise of Woolf's famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway.
Pastor, Artesia Christian Church, Artesia, CA
Darrel has an incredible love and interest in the cinematic arts.
His reviews usually include independent and significantly important film.
Click to enlargeThe Hours is a dark depiction of desperation and depression. Three women in different times and places each struggle against the internal or external expectations that get in the way of their happiness.

The stories are united by the novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf is writing the novel. Laura Brown is reading the novel. Clarissa Vaughn is living a life similar to Mrs. Dalloway's in the novel. The movie shows a day in each of these women's lives just as the novel covers a single day in Mrs. Dalloway's life.

I haven't read Mrs. Dalloway or any other works by Virginia Woolf. When I came out of the movie, I felt as though I were missing important information necessary to truly appreciate the film. I doubt that most viewers will have read Mrs. Dalloway. This is going to be a serious drawback in understanding the film fully. I do like films that treat the audience as intelligent, but here it treats something as general knowledge that really isn't.

Click to enlargeHowever, the performances are sterling. Meryl Streep, Julianna Moore, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris combine to make this one of the best ensemble casts of the year. Each has her own demon to battle with. All are trying to cope with the trials or disappointments that have come into their lives. They each find different methods, whether creativity, or running, or death, or denial. As we watch, we are inclined to pity them, but also to judge them for the choices they make.

Click to enlargeOne of the most moving scenes is one depicting Laura Brown in later life in a monologue about having abandoned her children. She sees it as a choice between life and death. She knows there should be remorse, and seems to wish that she could regret her choices, but cannot, even after all these years and the death of her son. In that speech, we are drawn to try to understand the suffocation that she felt as a wife and mother, but it is very hard to forgive the devastation this brought to those in her life.

Click to enlargeThe title "The Hours" actually has a dual meaning. It can be, as Richard, who is dying of AIDS, speaks of them: the unending time that must be endured. As we see the hours endured by all the characters in this story we understand the weight that those hours can represent. It can also be, as we hear in Virginia Woolf's suicide note, the time that can be cherished and remembered.

Click to enlargeWe all have both kinds of hours. The characters in this story are controlled by the hours of endurance and depression. And we see the danger of destruction that these hours can bring. That the movie ends with the comment about the hours that should be cherished is a small ray of hope, but somewhat ambivalent as we watch Woolf wading into the river to her death.
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