Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Oscar Movie Review: "The Hours" (2002)

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Movie"The Hours"
Year Nominated: 2003
Director: Stephen Daldry
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Three women from three different eras deal with depression; each of them are connected to the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" in some sort of way and it affects their lives.  

"The Hours" is a critically acclaimed film that offers a brief look into the lives of three different women and how their lives were affected by and connected to the novel "Mrs. Dalloway." This movie was nominated for multiple Academy Awards including best picture and multiple acting categories. The film spends its run time jumping back and forth between the women in three different eras. The first woman introduced is author Virginia Woolf in the year 1923. Woolf is played by Nicole Kidman in her Oscar winning performance and was the author of novel in question. Virginia deals with mental illness and a constant feeling of isolation even though she is married. In fact, the film opens with her narrating her suicide in 1941, letting the audience know they are surely in for a cheerful and uplifting experience. The next woman in this film is a housewife named Laura Brown, played by Julianne Moore, who earned a supporting actress nomination for her performance here. Laura Brown is reading "Mrs. Dolloway" in 1951, and despite having an attentive, loving husband, a son, a daughter on the way, and a picture perfect life, she seems to battle depression on a daily basis and might even possibly be self-medicating. This may be due to the implication that she is a closeted homosexual trying to force herself to live a life society deems acceptable in the 1950's. Much like Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown regularly contemplates suicide, a constant theme of the movie that comes up in each significant year. Finally, there is book editor named Clarissa Vaughan, played by the ever talented, brilliant Meryl Streep, who in a weird twist was the only person in this film with significant screen time not to be nominated. Her story takes place in modern days, 2001, and she lives a life similar to that of Mrs. Dalloway in the novel. She throws party after party to try to fill the emptiness of her life and to "drown out the silence." She takes care of her terminally ill friend and writer Richard, played wonderfully by Ed Harris, who, like others, was nominated for his performance. Richard is receiving an award for his writing, and Clarissa is throwing a party in his honor, a party he doesn't want to attend. Like we said, happy and uplifting.

Depression, homosexuality, time, and suicide are some of the themes that run throughout this film, all of which are themes the Academy seems to loves when it comes to deciding nominations each year. However, these aren't always topics that have mass appeal, which is one of the reasons why people have gravitated away from Oscars and other awards shows as of late. Regardless, everyone involved in "The Hours" gives emotionally strong, powerful performances, even the supporting cast, including the likes of Claire Danes, Allison Janney, and John C. Reilly. Nicole Kidman, who some say didn't deserve her award because of the simple fact that she was "made ugly" and nothing else, is quite great, and upon re-watching this movie, we have been given a new found appreciation for her work here. With age, we have also come to appreciate what this film does from a chronological standpoint, and it was really quite a genius idea to tell three separate but intertwining stories all related to one novel. There are some really beautiful visuals and cinematography in this movie as well, and director Stephen Daldry does an excellent job bringing the story to life, though at times it's all a little heavy handed, even for us. The drama is so exorbitant, so constant, that it might be to the detriment of "The Hours" just a little bit. Even still, it's a pretty good movie, but definitely not one we want to watch again for a very long time, if ever.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Babe"

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