- Stephen Daldry
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Decades later, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a wife and mother who lives a normal life in California, becomes addicted to Woolf’s aforementioned novel, the very day she puts her own existence to the test. She hides a secret even she feels ashamed for, and is on the brink of doing something that her husband Dan (John C. Reilly) and their little son (Jack Rovello) might suffer for. Clarissa Dalloway is about to change Laura’s life forever.
Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) lives in Greenwich Village, N.Y.C., in the year 2001, and while sharing her life with her female lover Sally (Allison Janney), she cares more than anything for her poet friend Richard (Ed Harris), an old flame of hers, who’s dying of AIDS.
Clarissa is something of an updated version of Mrs. Dalloway, Laura a woman who’s tremendously affected by that novel, and Virginia the source of it all. Their lives are connected, and paralleled. They all have things in common, and they all must deal with them one way or another. Same problems, different times. They’re trapped in the world, in society, and in themselves. Their depression is huge. What’s the way out?
Absolutely affecting, extraordinary drama, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Cunningham, an homage to “Mrs. Dalloway”, and a masterpiece of its own. The film is also masterful, sharply scripted by David Hare, exquisitely photographed by Seamus McGarvey, and beautiful crafted by director Stephen Daldry.
The performances are nothing short of glorious, with Streep a perfect Mrs. Dalloway, so confident on the outside while so fragile on the inside, Moore tremendous as a woman who contains the whole sadness of the world in her eyes while she speaks sweetly and smiles appropriately, Kidman unrecognizable not only for her makeup, but for her voice, her movements, and her complex persona. The three of them are top-notch. Ed Harris is unforgettable too as a man who controls everyone around with only a look and few words, always on target, but why is he like that? That’s for us to find out. Expert performances come from the supporting cast too: Claire Danes, Miranda Richardson, Jeff Daniels, John C. Reilly, Toni Collette and many more. The ensemble is perfect and everyone does an outstanding job.
The greatness of the script lies in the seamless transition from one story to the other, the references and parallelism, and the heartbreaking revelations, always accurate to shatter the audience. The score by Philip Glass deserves a paragraph of its own, or a review of its own, but I’d rather add it to this paragraph, for it’s so involved with the story that one must mention it as a feature of it. Glass’ scores are always kind of overwhelming, and the effect of saturating a movie with music is not always good. Here, instead, the unforgivable notes, played with such intensity, and composed with such feeling, only add to the emotional impact, with Glass’ piano making our feelings break in a haunting way. It’s a triumph!
Overall, a must-see film with enough elements to make you cry a river, and then go ahead and change your whole life… for good, hopefully.
“Leonard, you cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
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Other reviews of The Hours (2002): Morris
- Stephen Daldry
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Thursday, June 28, 2007
The movie is based on a novel by Michael Cunningham that tells three parallel stories, all connected to Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway”. In the 20’s, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is struggling to stay alive, as her life has become a burden to others and to herself. Strange illnesses and depression have taken over her life, while her husband (Stephen Dillane) tries to maintain a quiet, happy life. As it happens, Woolf is writing a book at the moment. That very same book is the one Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is reading at her L.A. home in the 50’s as she wakes up to congratulate her husband (John C. Reilly) and embarks on a quest to prepare him a cake with the help of her little son (Jack Rovello). Seems like a perfect life, but Laura thinks otherwise, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Meanwhile in New York 2001, Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) is preparing a party for her dying friend Richard (Ed Harris) in Mrs. Dalloway-style.
Ten minutes into the movie I already thought it was brilliant. Director Stephen Daldry begins the movie hitting a weird note and then goes back to show us our three leading ladies as they start a new day. The way the movie cuts from one period to another, the way the music plays in the background, the way it is all put together... perfect. I was hooked.
But then we slowly start to know more about these ladies. It’s funny how the movie has three different storylines yet the three main characters are extremely well defined from the beginning. They’re such rich characters that you can’t help but praise David Hare for his masterful screenplay and the way he was able to blend such heart-breaking moments into a whole.
Because, you see, it is a heart-breaking movie. Some people have called it the “feel-bad movie of the year”. Well, I wouldn’t argue with that, but when the movie was over, my feelings were completely different. I was devastated, I was affected, I was touched, I was kind of in a trance. It was as if a beautiful tragic poem had just been read to me and I was left speechless. I most of all had that feeling of richness when you’ve seen something that has left you something that you know you won’t forget. It was also a feeling of happiness for having just seen one of the best movies I’d seen in a long time.
What if your apparently perfect life is anything but perfect to you? What if you were trapped in a society that doesn’t understand you? What if you had to leave that thing you love the most in order to seek happiness? What if you became your worst enemy? What if you only lived for others and never paid attention to yourself? What if you never realized what happiness is? What if you felt like you don’t belong anywhere? What if you had to suddenly let go of a very strong relationship? What if?
The Hours is such a beautiful movie. It is full of great moments, just as Meryl Streep’s character mutters at a certain point. It is also expertly directed by Stephen Daldry, gorgeously photographed by Seamus McGarvey and skillfully edited by Peter Boyle. Then there is Philip Glass’s score, which is integral to the overall mood of the movie. It felt like an orchestra to me. It was just the perfect score and always at the perfect moment. Beautiful.
And the performances… I’d need an entire review to make the performances justice. Nicole Kidman wore a prosthetic nose all right, but her performance is a lot more than that. You can feel the pain through her eyes. Julianne Moore is just radiant and heart-breaking. Watch that scene in the bathroom while talking to her husband. The way she uses her face, ugh, it even hurts. And Meryl Streep delivers one of the best performances of her career. I’m not kidding. She’s fragile, yet trying to be alive for others. She’s just a joy to watch.
But wait, there’s even more amazing performances. There are a lot of characters in the movie that appear for only 10 to 15 minutes, yet they all leave a strong impression. Ed Harris is superb as Clarissa’s writer friend who is dying of AIDS. He’s only in two scenes, but boy does he take the best out of them. Toni Collette has one scene and she’s absolutely marvelous. John C. Reilly, Claire Danes, Allison Janney, Jack Rovello, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Dillane, Jeff Daniels… talk about a cast. And there’s not one single false note in any of anyone’s work in The Hours.
A movie that leaves a lasting impression.
“Leonard, always the years between us, always the years, always the love, always the hours.”
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Other reviews of The Hours (2002): Groucho