Tuesday, February 22

Review: The Hours

The Hours is well-directed, well-photographed and well-acted. It's an adaptation of a book by the same name for which the author won a Pulitzer Prize. It's made by a director who has received oscar nominations for every one of his major films. The soundtrack is provided by one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. It stars three of the finest actresses working today. And it bored me out of my skull.

The years are 1923, 1951 and 2001. The characters are Virginia Woolf, the famous english novelist (an unrecognizable Nicole Kidman), a troubled suburban housewife (Julianne Moorre) and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), a New York socialite whose life seems to mirror that of the main character from Woolfs novel Mrs. Dalloway. We see them all going through basically the same story: a party is prepared, flowers are bought, suicide is contemplated. All these women are unhappy to their core. Why this is is never really explained. All three seem to have some lingering lust for people other then their partners (and of the other sex), but that's about it. It's not a movie about homosexuality or adultery, it's a movie about suffering. And whatever the reasons, these women suffer a lot. But are we supposed to suffer with them? I suppose so. Perhaps I failed to do so because I couldn't relate to them a single bit. This might have something to do with the fact that they are all middle-aged women, and I am not. Still, it's rare that I feel such disconnect from characters that are so clearly in pain.

This is something that has bothered me about all of Stephen Daldries films. His other outings, Billy Elliot and The Reader, both feature characters who experience quite intense tragedy, and I found both of those more annoying then moving. Yet it's clear from the style and the pacing of The Hours that Daldry really is not a bad director. I just don't understand him, in the most infuriating way possible. I don't know what he's trying to say, how he's trying to say it or what he's trying to accomplish with it.

Watching The Hours, I had the feeling like I was intruding upon something. I have heard people talk about this movie as the movie of their lifetime, almost like it was something sacred. It made me feel a little guilty when I got so bored that I almost stopped paying attention halfway through. I felt like an annoyed teenager, throwing popcorn at an artfilm because there were too little explosions and tits for my taste. And I think that is the best I can say about this movie: it wasn't made for me. I'm a little hesitant to say that it's a "women's film", but I think it's fair to say that guys should steer clear of this. I'm afraid that's all I can say about it. You'll have to figure out the rest yourself.


Three chicks. Who make music that was inspired by Philip Glass. It's almost too easy.

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