The Hours: hauntingly beautiful

Jan. 10, 2003, midnight | By Alexa Scott | 21 years, 1 month ago

Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman star in this beautiful and dark film, leading us through a haunting day in lives of 2002 editor and modern woman Clarissa Vaughan (Streep), 1940's housewife and mother Laura Brown (Moore) and 1920's writer Virginia Woolf (Kidman). These three womens' lives are intertwined through relation, love and art.

As morbid and clinically insane Virginia Woolf writes the novel Mrs. Dalloway, out of place Laura Brown is being deeply affected by the words nearly 30 years later and begins breaking down over the failures of her life. Years later, Clarissa Vaughan is beginning to experience similar regrets as her life begins to unravel around her. The womens' emotional downward spiral throughout the film is mapped out with such sensitivity and care that the movie takes on an incredible art-like aura. Studded with intense moments, the movie lacks an actual plot but is more a series of events, giving it a very realistic feel.

The film opens with flowing water and intense music, a mood the director maintains throughout the movie. It is shot with brief moments of each woman's life, mixing related actions to show the similarities of their lives, if not their times. Through their ups and downs, one theme remains present, and that is an increasing feeling of hopelessness, of being trapped in a life they didn't ask for and don't want.

Virginia Woolf, played by Nicole Kidman with incredible skill, is the strongest and most predominant character, often causing me to forget she is Kidman at all and fully convincing me that she is the very deep and very depressed Virginia Woolf. While writing her book, Virginia is becoming increasingly disgusted with her life and these desperate feelings seep into the novel, a book about a woman who presents a courageous front but is crumbling inside.

Laura Brown, beautiful and soft-spoken, reads the novel at the same time she is harboring similar depressing thoughts. Stricken by the resemblance the book has to her own life, she becomes increasingly aware that she wants to leave her current self behind. Her adoring son Richard is deeply scarred by his mother's lack of interest and eventual abandonment of her family.

Years later, after Virginia has written the book and Laura has read it, Clarissa Vaughan is being moved by its intensity from all directions, relating it to her own life and to the pain of her friends. The most important person in her life is a much older and much altered Richard, who is living with AIDS. His painful history in combination with his struggling existence leads to Clarissa's breakdown and regrets about her trivial life.

Deep, dark and intense, this movie is not as in-your-face depressing as it is deeply moving. It makes you think, about life, happiness and how much one person can bear before giving up.

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