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:: The Hours

Three women in different places in time come to terms with how the relationships in their lives have affected them over the years. Each one deals with the repressive constraints placed upon them in their “worlds” dealing with their depression, dependence on others and longing for a life that they can own, a day in the lives of these extraordinary women.

The first story is set in an English countryside town outside of London in the early 1920s. We meet the great novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) as she prepares to write Mrs Dalloway. Beginning her day with a fresh bunch of flowers, we shift to Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) set in American post World War II, whom also begins her day in the same manner. Following this theme we are introduced to Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) in contemporary New York.

The link that ties these stories together is Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and how it has profoundly affected each of these women’s lives. The feelings that stir within Woolf that leads her to write the novel, Laura immersing herself in the book and Clarissa who is told by a long lost love that she is the living version on Mrs Dalloway. Through these connecting stories we come to realise the significant affect that Woolf’s story and writing has on them all, even on herself, and how it is passed down and felt by other women generations later.

The women all struggle with the constraints placed upon women in the times that they live in. Woolf, a brilliant intellectual woman suffering from severe depression and schizophrenia, is constantly being watched and waited on against her will and up for constant scrutiny by her husband, sister and the hired help, who monitor her every move. Laura, a wife and pregnant mother of one, deals with the pressures of being an at-home wife of the 50s and conforming to the image and role of what a wife should be as she struggles to make the perfect birthday cake for daddy. All this while finding herself passionately kissing one her best friends. And Clarissa continually gives of herself to a man who will never love her at the expense of the people who do.

Based on the acclaimed Michael Cunningham novel, this is directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) with the screenplay by accomplished playwright David Hare and a brilliant score by Phillip Glass (The Truman Show, Kundun). The Hours is a beautifully moving film where all elements work splendidly together to create a profoundly moving story of these women and the challenges they each share in their daily lives, inspired by Mrs Dalloway.

The performances are captivating as each actress gives a new depth to the wonderful characters created. Especially outstanding are the three lead actresses Kidman, Moore and Streep, with a special mention to Ed Harris who plays Clarissa’s dying love, Richard. Although the three actresses barely share any screen time together (if any), each individual story is given equal weight and leaves the viewer longing for more.