The Hours ★★★★½

The Hours is a film of three stories about three women all living a form of the life of Mrs. Dalloway, the lauded novel by Virginia Woolf. The first story is that of the author herself played by a gaunt, frail Nichole Kidman. She uses the novel to struggle with her inner demons, to which she eventually subcumbs (as we see in the first scene of the film).

Then there is Mrs. Brown, a housewife in the 50s, masterfully played by Julianne Moore. She has the perfect life, the perfect husband, the perfect, beautiful son, yet she is inadequate for this very life she is living. The third woman is Clarissa, played by Meryl Streep, a book editor who struggles to keep her dear friend, poet and ex-lover involved as he struggles with AIDS.

The brilliance of this film is the weaving of these three stories into one coherent whole about life and happiness and relationship. This is cinematic literature, depth in film at its finest, even if it wears its literariness on its sleeve. The film is held strong by its amazing cast, including John C Riley and Ed Harris, who take the great ideas and encapsulates them into a reality that touches us and breathes. Even the editing is top-notch, clearly spelling out a narrative that could easily be confusing for frustrating, but never is.

One of the greatest aspects of the film are the touchstones of themes in the story. There is a desperate kiss in each story, each protagonist collects flowers to maintain a semblance of normalcy, and they all have an individual that keeps them alive and breathing, often out of duty. The deeper we look into this film, the richer we find it.

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