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The Hours (12A)



Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter David Hare; Actress audio commentary; The Music of The Hours (7 mins); The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway (9 mins); Three Woman (15 mins); Storyboards; Filmmakers Introduction; Theatrical trailer; The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf (24 mins).

SEE The Hours before you are sick of hearing how good it is. It's sure to be an Oscar favourite.

The Hours was the original title of Virginia Woolf's first novel. However, as the book began to take shape, she soon realised the story was revolving around one character and so changed the title to Mrs Dalloway.

In The Hours, this great work of literature then acts as a catalyst affecting the lives of three women.

The first, Virginia Woolf herself (played by Nicole Kidman), as she conceives and writes the book, Mrs Dalloway, in the early 1920's. The second, Laura (Julianne Moore) a 1950's pregnant housewife, who is reading Mrs Dalloway, and is prompted to change her life. And the third, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) a contemporary New Yorker, who is given the nickname Mrs Dalloway as she prepares a party for her friend, Richard (Ed Harris), who is dying.

As we pass through these three very different ages, we see how much the women have in common and how their lives are intertwined and affect each other.

This fascinating idea, devised from Michael Cunningham's book of the same name (which won the Pulitzer prize for fiction), has been adapted by David Hare and is the second feature film to be directed by the extremely gifted Stephen Daldry (of Billy Elliot fame).

The magic continues with a phenomenal cast. Kidman, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actress, is unrecognisable as the plain faced, distressed Virginia Woolf, who can only find solace in controlling the characters' lives in her books and would prefer death to living in Richmond!

Moore, too, is riveting as a controlled housewife, having decisions made for her, while Streep plays the perfect hostess who has tried to control her own life.

The film is superbly held together by an excellent supporting cast; with Stephen Dillane, as Woolf's patient husband, Leonard, and Ed Harris, as the tormented poet, to name but two.

The result is an intelligent, thought-provoking, beautifully-crafted film, which leaves you feeling ready to face what life may throw at you.

It has deservedly won the best picture Golden Globe and will no doubt inspire a new generation to read Virginia Woolf.

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