One of the most PERFECT ensemble casts to hit recent movie history is most definitely the trifecta of Meryl, Julianne and Nicole in Stephen Daldry’s 2002 drama “The Hours”. Obviously, “The Hours” was my favourite movie that certain year and after a rewatch, the film has aged beautifully (being that it was released almost 11 years ago). When there’s nothing much to do, “The Hours” always hits the right chords in my movie addicted mind. Apart from the three power house actresses that the film features, we’ve got an insane cast of supporting players including Toni Collette, Patricia Clarkson and Ed Harris to name a few!
There’s really something about the movie that makes it timeless though. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s set in three different time eras? We’ve got Meryl playing Clarisse Vaughan in present day New York, while Julianne lives depressed as a surprised 1950s housewife in suburbia, and Nicole tops it off as the famous writer Virginia Woolf struggling with her artistic lows in early century England. No matter what it is, “The Hours” finds common grounds that does make it in fact, timeless and beautiful from beginning to end. The score is breathtaking and David Hare’s phenomenal screenplay matches Daldry’s pitch perfect direction to the tiniest point.
Let’s break down the characters and the performances of three women, shall we?
Meryl Streep. The acting legend, surely provides the audience with another beautifully performed role as Clarissa Vaughn. Clarissa lives in modern day New York City, living the life in the upper crust of society, she deals with difficult things in her every day life. It isn’t only her frustrations as a working woman, a mother, and her obligations to her lover Sally (Allison Janney). But Clarissa also takes care of her dying writer friend Richard Brown (Ed Harris) as he suffers from the HIV virus. Clarissa begins to unravel as her perfect day turns upside down, and she becomes very comparable to the Mrs. Dalloway in Virginia Woolf’s famous novel. Streep plays this extremely well. Her range of emotion beats out many of her recent Oscar nominations that seem to be a bit of a joke when comparing to such a performance as Clarissa Vaughn. She internalises.
Julianne Moore. The actress had one hell of a year in 2002. Though a lot of people tend to lean over to her leading performance in “Far From Heaven” that year, I beg to differ. Moore’s talents and range is widely seen in her performance as Laura Brown in “The Hours”. Laura, is probably the least obvious and most complex character of the three women. She is a 1950s housewife living in a state of fear as she must continue to lead a fake life in a loveless marriage with her husband Dan (John C. Reilly) all for her little boy (Jack Rovello). As Woolf’s novel consumes her and her life decisions, Laura must now carefully examine her marriage and her life in suburbia to really see if everything’s worth it. Moore’s portrayal of a tortured mother goes layers deep then many of the typical motherly roles done in other Oscar-bait films. Laura Brown is a spectacular character to play. Though she’s good throughout the entire picture, her last few scenes (no spoilers I promise, you’ll get what I mean when you watch it) is just hands down amazing.
Nicole Kidman. “By a nose…Nicole Kidman” was the exact words Denzel read out loud back in the Academy Awards when Nicole won her Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role as Virginia Woolf in the others. Kidman, was the only one who struck Oscar glory for her performance. Though I have no problem with the win, I do prefer someone else for the win that year. However, Kidman has proven herself a talented actress many a time and “The Hours” is no different from her amazingly diverse repertoire. She portrays the famous English writer Virginia Woolf who wrestles with her mind as depression and insanity turn her from the road of happiness. The role is perfect for Nicole and undeniably sits upon the list of her greatest performances of all time.
I dream of a day when such a wonderful director is able to bring together an acting force like “The Hours” (2001) was. There have been numerous movies where the cast and story were exquisite but I’m not exaggerating when I say this film is in another level. I’m still waiting for that day! If you haven’t seen this movie, download it right away. It’s worth it!