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The Hours also known as “Las horas,” “As Horas,” “The Hours—Von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit,” “Az órák,” “Godziny,” “Les heures,” “Oi ores,” “Saatler,” “Timmarna,” “Tunnid,” “Tunnit,” “ЧАсы” (Russia)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some disturbing images and brief language.

Reviewed by: Jim O'Neill

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Romance Drama
1 hr. 54 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2002 (LA/NYC)
December 27, 2003 (limited)
January 24, 2003 (wide)
DVD: June 24, 2003
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
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women in the Bible

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Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
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“Hollywood’s” worldview
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Why is there a disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of America? Answer

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Featuring: Nicole Kidman (Virginia Woolf), Julianne Moore (Laura Brown), Meryl Streep (Clarissa Vaughan), John C. Reilly (Dan Brown), Toni Collette (Kitty), Ed Harris (Richard Brown), Claire Danes (Julia Vaughan), Jeff Daniels (Louis Waters), more »
Director: Stephen Daldry
Producer: Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films, Scott Rudin Productions, more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“Three different women. Each living a lie.”

Michael Cunningham won a Pullitzer Prize for The Hours, his novel about twentieth century life as seen from the perspective of three women each of whom find themselves caught up in and destabilized by the effects of a rapidly evolving modern age. The film by Stephen Daldry, unfortunately, is a faithful adaptation of Cunningham’s book.

The beginning of the twentieth century is represented by Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) who sweats and suffers (some might say dithers) over her novel, Mrs. Dalloway before she commits suicide. The middle of the century is characterized by a housewife (Julianne Moore) who cares for a son, bakes a cake for her husband’s birthday, and sneaks off to a hotel room to read Mrs. Dalloway. She represents the conservative, unyielding and unfulfilling 1950s. I don’t see much pathos or much sincerity in this sequence. The fifties may have been a buttoned-up period in our cultural history, but it wasn’t nearly as dull as “The Hours” would have us believe. And neither were housewives sentenced or resigned to lives of boredom. While Virginia Woolf novels stayed stubbornly on bookstore shelves, women in the fifties were buying up books by Grace Metalious and James Jones. Those readers were not a dull lot. Unlike Moore’s character, people who lived in the 1950s actually did know how to have fun.

And if someone was prone to melancholy and suicide as Moore’s character is, the last thing she ought to be doing is reading Mrs. Dalloway. Her choice in leisure reading is akin to an alcoholic going to the movies to see “Lost Weekend” or a kleptomaniac going to see “Marnie”.

The end of the century brings us the sorriest of the three, a lesbian (Meryl Streep) who is preparing a party for a former boyfriend who is now dying of AIDS. Notice how each of the three women is preparing something, and none of her plans come to fruition. Streep’s character comes closest, but she seems bound and stifled by her tasks. She devotes a lot of time and effort to her current lover (Allison Janney) and to her former lover (an overwrought Ed Harris), but she doesn’t seem to give of herself to either. Her friend with AIDS needs a lot more than a party.

Streep plays the part the way she usually does. There’s more technique than soul in the performance, her character almost invisible behind heavy sweaters, long coats, bulky scarves and dark-rimmed glasses. If Streep and her character represent the twentieth century come full circle, we’re all in for a lot of trouble.

Virginia Woolf’s legend always had more meat than her novels or her essays. Cunningham’s novel and Daldry’s film prove this point. I don’t believe Mrs. Dalloway is a great novel. Its themes of suicide and sexual ambiguity bored me. Cunningham’s reworking of those themes had the same effect on me. Both have death as their focal point and both use death to weave a theme of self-affirmation not by facing or daring or understanding death, but by submitting to it. This is not only morbid stuff, it’s silly stuff. None of the characters examine their conscience. No one considers sin to be a factor in her unhappiness. No one contemplates looking to Christ as a solution to her problem. Indeed, there is no salvation to be found in the world of Virginia Woolf. Perhaps one of her significant contributions to our time was to prophesy our current day “culture of death.”

I suspect that “The Hours” was brought to the screen not because it had something important to say. Rather, it was made as a star vehicle for the three main actresses. Without an Academy Award, especially one for Ms. Kidman (whose performance is more a credit to the makeup department than to her own talents—aren’t there any actresses with long faces and crooked noses who actually look like Virginia Woolf out there? Wouldn’t it have been more practical to just cast one of them?), the movie will go nowhere with the general public. At this time, it can only be seen in a few theatres. I suspect that this is to ensure that only elites and Academy voters will have the chance to see it, and to fawn over it. And to ensure that Ms. Kidman, and perhaps one of her co-stars as well, will have an Oscar to put on the mantle. And the rest of us will have a reason, although it’s a hollow one, to buy a ticket to a film unworthy of the public’s attention.

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—The thing that carried the movie was the powerful acting by the three leading ladies. Juliane Moore’s character brought me to tears by her mere presence. Nicole Kidman fully deserved her Oscar and I resent that the reviewer said it had more to do with her makeup than her performance. Nothing is further from the truth. I was not “grossed out” by the women kissing other women because I happen to be an open-minded individual. Not everything that is God’s will needs to be shown in movies. You accuse Hollywood of shoving their ideals into everyone’s face but aren’t you doing the same thing by insisting that every movie has to have a “strong Christian message”? Much to someone’s surprise there actually are people out there who are like the characters in this movie, and I would much rather watch something real than some sugar-coated “Christian” movie that provides nothing even remotely thought provoking and simply hands your morals and ideals to you on a silver platter. Oh, and I am a Christian. I just happen to be a realistic one who enjoys a powerful, thought provoking movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Wuchen Li, age 32
Positive—It is clear to me upon reading many of the comments on this site, that most of the viewers did not “get” this film. To fully grasp the themes of the film, it helps to have read both Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Cunningham’s The Hours in order to understand the psychology of the characters and the reasoning behind their life choices.

This film is more or less about three women from three different decades, who are sublimely unhappy with their lives, and who try to cope with that unhappiness through art and creativity. All the while, they seriously consider suicide as an end to their misery, but opt to stay alive to make others around them happy. Some survive this inner struggle, and some don’t.

Some will argue with the film’s humanist worldview, but as far as I can tell, these emotions are real, these situations are real, and they happen every day. “The Hours” only brings those things to the light. Much has been made of the “lesbian” kissing scenes in the film. The viewers who have commented vehemently on these three instances have indeed taken it all out of context. These women so desperately want to make a connection with another human being, that the kisses aren’t what they seem to be on the surface. They are not sexual, by any means. Yes, there are gay and lesbian characters in the film, but there are gay and lesbian people in life, as well.

Every time I see this film, it’s as though I see it through new eyes. I always gain a fresh perspective, and this has much to do with the fact that I am older, and have gained much more life experience than when I first saw the film years ago. Everything about the film bursts with life, from the beautiful cinematography, to the acting, the Philip Glass’ beautiful score.

There is also an unexpected scene of forgiveness that is truly touching. You should come away from this film a little more enlightened than you were before, that is, if you are willing to go there…and it always helps to read the books beforehand to gain a fuller experience. Those who have claimed that the film is about “nothing” are dead wrong. This film works on so many levels. It is nothing short of a miracle.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 28 (USA)
Negative—It was hard to follow because they kept changing between time periods. I thought it was very depressing, because you kept waiting for someone to kill themselves. As christians we are not always happy but we don’t sit around thinking about suicide. Also the gay theme that ran throughout the movie was not something I wanted to see and would not want my child to see.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Janet, age 38
Negative—I viewed this movie with three women friends. We were all shocked and dismayed by the lesbianism and homosexuality; the casual acceptance of suicide as the solution to an unsatisfactory life and the negative parenting and family lifestyles that were presented as acceptable. The acting, set design and cinematography were superb. The music created a nervous tension throughout the entire movie that was totally unwarranted. The interplay of timelines and storylines was fascinating. It is just too bad that the writer and producer chose such pitiful material to give to the world in such a wonderful package.Skip it, it is not worth wasting your money to leave the theater feeling as if you have been in a tug of war for your soul.(Now I remember why I couldn’t get interested in studying Mrs. Dalloway in University!)
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 5]
—Rosemary McDonald, age 51
Negative—I went because I saw these actresses on TV. They talked about how much they had enjoyed making the movie and hoped everyone would see it. This movie left me feeling very sick and uneasy in spirit. It was difficult for me to follow. Three story lines about how persons fill the hours in their day, including lesbian, homosexuality, and suicide. Every major actress kissed another woman. I will tell people NOT to see this movie! Nothing in this glorifies my God! Another “in your face” movie about lifestyles that are not as God intended! I wished I had seen a Christian review before giving my money to Hollywood!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Nancy Grable, age 48
Negative—We had a single womens night out to the movies thinking this was a “chick flick.” Each of us admitted we wanted to walk out and we should have. I have teennage daughters and I would hate for them to see a movie like this that is so dark and delves not only into homosexuality and suicide as overall themes but also makes women appear so oppressed by society. It certainly should not have been rated PG-13. The only good thing I came away with from this film is a gratitude that my life is focused on who I am in Christ.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Linda, age 42
Negative—My wife and I lasted 23 minutes of “The Hours.” As soon as two 1951 house wives started kissing we left.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1]
—Bob, age 43
Negative—This film should have an R rating. No way would I allow my kids to see this film. It portrays homosexuality throughout, over and over. Suicide is presented over and over. Even the audience was floored I think. The acting was pretty good, I guess, considering that none of these characters are gay (I don’t think they are). They sure acted it out. I could have went my whole life without seeing this film. Another typical Hollywood production.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 1½]
—Jerry Redd, age 45
Comments from young people
Negative—I wish that I had been informed of the strong homosexual content of this movie before I saw the film. I feel that the advertisements and movie trailers neglected to mention this aspect of the movie. It is my opinion that Hollywood, once again, has tried to prove a politically correct point, instead of bringing true art to the screen. I wish I hadn’t seen this film, as it does involve the female characters explicitly kissing other females. This was gross. It could have been a good movie; however, the homosexuality overpowered the plot.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—TJ, age 17
Movie Critics
…considers friendship among women, including lesbian behavior, as the strongest bond of all. The men in the movie are either homosexual, or simple and doting…
—Lisa and Eric Rice, Movieguide
…rather gloomy and depressing, and thematic elements include suicide (2 characters commit it and one nearly does), depression and mental illness, and AIDS…
…presents a sympathetic and disturbing view of homosexuality and suicide…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review