September 17, 2003

The Hours

hours.jpgIt's been a week or so since we watched this. It's a good movie. The casting is incredible (Streep, Moore, Kidman as the female leads, of course, but the supporting cast is impressive, too, with Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, Ed Harris, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Claire Danes, and Jeff Daniels). The story weaves back and forth between Woolf writing Mrs. Dalloway in 1923, a housewife in 1951 reading the book, and a 2001 editor who personifies the title character. Phillip Glass provides a score that sets tone and eases the transitions.

But while I enjoyed the experience of the film as I was watching it, looking back I feel like it could have been better. The cuts between the various timelines were rapidfire and frenetic, but when it stayed with a particular story for a while it felt draggy. The dragginess works for all the individual women's lives saturated with depression and despair as they were, but the contrast between the two speeds of the film didn't fit with the story for me.

I was also distracted by the makeup, not only the infamous nose they slapped on Nicole Kidman's mug, but also Ed Harris's AIDS makeup and Julianne Moore's old face at the end. They were all impressive, but they all looked like makeup to me.

But again, this is post-viewing analysis. The active presence of the film is engrossing. The emotions of the leads are a palpable experience. It makes Woolf's choice of suicide seem completely reasonable.

Interestingly, I ran across a discussion of depression and suicide just a couple of days after watching the movie. In a comment to her LiveJournal, Lydy wrote:

Did I ever tell you that I figured out a good answer to the question, "Why don't I just kill myself?" It's a perfectly valid question, and there are days when it's very hard to think of a good reason not to. My answer, though, is, "Next year, the medtech will be better." Life may not mean anything, but eventually it might stop hurting, and that would be an awfully nice thing.

The rate at which medtech improves can be cause for despair on its own, but certainly compared to 1923 or 1951, now is a better time to have screwed-up brain chemistry if you can afford to treat it.

The DVD has some interesting documentary material about Woolf, and a bunch of other stuff we didn't have time to watch since we had to return it to the library.

Posted by jeffy at September 17, 2003 02:43 PM

The only thing I can say about this movie is:
Time is a time for a time.

Posted by: Liwanu Tangerine at January 17, 2005 08:06 AM
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