Directed by Stephen Daldry
Written by David Hare
Adapted from The Hours by Michael Cunningham
I'm not going to reveal anything about the plot. You should go see this film instead of using reviews as Cliff Notes to keep up on the latest in cinema, impressing your friends and associates at cocktail parties. Instead, I will just point out that all the things you hear about The Hours are true. Adapted from Michael Cunningham's novel, David Hare creates a script so good that it allows Stephen Daldry to create a satisfying movie, leaving you wanting more with its believable characters, great pacing, and suspense. When the end credits start, it's disappointing that you have to leave the world these talented artists have offered us. It has amazing performances from the entire cast. The last time I remember seeing an ensemble this good is Glengarry Glen Ross. Cinematography, editing, art direction, every element of the film is of a very high quality. All the accolades it receives it deserves and you would have a tough time making an argument for a film from 2002 that does better in any category. That's why you see so much praise from movie critics and why they try to write their reviews like they're real writers. Look at all the 50-cent words used in the advertisements.
In fact, to prove how good The Hours is let me set the scene at my screening. The print I saw had three vertical black lines left of center during the entire film. Occasionally, they would be obscured from view during dark sequences but would always return. I was very disappointed since this was the first day the theater had the film. To his credit, the theatre manager did give me a refund when I pointed out the bad print. Audience members were talking throughout the entire film, and not just the usual huddled masses who have had their movie-viewing skills in a public setting ruined by home video. I'm not singling out those who verbally gasped when hints were revealed about the plot connections, nor do I mean those who somehow missed the hints and verbally gasped ten minutes later when the plots were linked. (I'm curious why they thought, or even if they noticed, the first group gasping.) No, I refer to those who must have issues about their lives and how they live it. The film struck a chord with some viewers as they identified with one character or another on what path that character chose to follow. This seemed to induce whispered therapy sessions throughout the film with some people. Sitting a couple seats down in my row, one old man decided to have a picnic with his wife, so I heard the crinkle and rustle of every course. And last, but not least, some new mother brought her infant. Starting children young with the arts is a noble and worthwhile endeavor, but when the only stimuli the weeks-old kid receives is flickering light, what good does that do? The crying, which I predicted when I saw the little bundle of joy carried by, started about 30 minutes in. Then there was the production of carrying the baby out. Thankfully, she never returned. Mark my words; if it hasn't happened already, you will soon be seeing people bringing pets to the movies. Luckily for all around, The Hours was so good that it kept my focus and kept my head from exploding. It could have been an ugly scene filled with obscenity.
This is not a movie for everyone though. It's certainly not a "feel good" movie, so if you don't enjoy art when it's depressing, such as Plath's The Bell Jar or the band Joy Division, this film is probably not for you. Also, if the only movies that you enjoy which deal with women and their decisions in life start with the words "Girls Gone Wild," you should probably skip this and go watch wrestling with the fellas and have a few brews.
My only negative comments are the impending dread I have knowing that I'm going to hear Nicole Kidman's "woe is me" speech until March 23rd as she informs us with how she didn't want the part because she was so depressed due to her divorce, but her agent and others wisely talked her into taking the role. This act as already helped her win a Golden Globe. Maybe it wouldn't be so annoying if she didn't tell the story the same way in every interview. Attempts at wooing the voters with things other than the work really annoy me. I noticed this tactic back in 1993 when Gene Hackman, who was nominated for his performance in Unforgiven, announced in every interview that he was retiring. He's done over 20 movies since then.
My biggest complaint is that it's too bad the studios only want to give us movies like this for six to eight weeks at the end of the year in the annual Oscar dash; every studio having two, if not three, hopefuls trying to be noticed. That's not counting the independent producers. I'm certain there are gems overlooked as the market is saturated with film. Dreamworks gave us Road to Perdition in the summer, an adult oasis in a desert of movies for the under-25 crowd. They're hoping it gets some award attention, but it hasn't so far, which sadly means they probably won't give us anything next summer and just hold the good stuff for the fall. What then do I have to look forward to the rest of the year? Over 40 weeks of sequels, explosions and teenage sex romps? At least there will be more fodder for the Masked Movie Snobs.