The Hours

Virginia Woolf: Nicole Kidman
Laura Brown: Julianne Moore
Clarissa Vaughan: Meryl Streep
Richard: Ed Harris
Leonard Woolf: Stephen Dillane
Dan Brown: John C. Reilly
Kitty Toni Collette

Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by Stephen Daldry. Written by David Hare. Based on the novel by Michael Cunningham. Running time: 114 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for mature thematic elements, some disturbing images and brief language.)

Central Theme
In attempting to resolve one’s unhappy condition while yearning for happiness, one may choose to take one’s own life or live it. The right choice depends on your personal circumstances, but in every case should be based on what it best for you and not anyone else.

We meet three women, spanning three different eras, living out one day of their lives. Each is experiencing isolation, loneliness, alienation and depression and each, though loved is yearning for love. Each is told they are lucky, but are not experiencing happiness.

The first, Virginia Wolfe, influences the others through her novel Mrs. Dalloway. Her real-life suicide in 1941, after years of battling depression, resonates with them as well. Laura Brown, pregnant, lives the suburban 1950’s life with a devoted husband with whom she feels no connection and a son for whom she feels obligation. Her unhappiness is a daily weight threatening to crush her and suicide seems the only way out. It is her husband’s birthday and she needs to bake a cake, but all she can think about is Mrs. Dalloway and her own escape. Clarissa lives in contemporary times with her lesbian lover and is trying to create a beautiful party for her ex-husband Ed Harris, the recipient of a major poetry award, but emaciated and dying of AIDS.

The one day of three women’s lives is woven together seamlessly in a screenplay that forces three women to make a choice to live (or end) their life according to what is best for them. One gets the sense that misery is the inevitable outcome whether living life for another like Clarissa, or choosing death like Virginia, or choosing to leave one life for another like Laura. The attempt to celebrate beauty, as represented by the presence of flowers in each woman’s day, is juxtaposed on the deep sadness of each woman’s life. The generational impact of our choices is captured in the watchful eye of a child observing and preserving each troubled woman’s unhappiness. Mental illness and depression usually have a genetic component, but the environmental factors and impact are weighty as portrayed in these stories, which at times are so searing and relentless, the viewer wishes to look away. Many have noted a lesbian theme throughout the movie with each of our women seizing a kiss from another.

The Hours is an artistic and aesthetically effective crafting of a novel, wordsmithed into a screenplay, and then superbly performed by an extraordinary ensemble of actors in yet another nihilistic message about life. One wished for the anecdote of C.S. Lewis who learned the distinction between happiness and joy and then wrote “Surprised By Joy.”

Beliefs num
–Sometimes death is preferable to life.
–When choosing life, do it on terms that suit you, even if the cost is heavy for others.
–Children raised by unhappy people will bear scars no matter what road the unhappy person chooses to take.
–One hopes that in the end the love you make will be equal to the love you take.
–The living should not demand that the dying (emotionally or physically) stay alive for them.
–Women more than men have been defined by roles that don’t suit them.
–Traditional feminie roles of self-sacrifice will not bring ulitmate satisfaction.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Are there times when choosing death is preferable to living life?
–Are there times when making radical, self-serving choices in an unbearable life, is acceptable as a way of avoiding suicide?
–Which action by a parent affects children more: abandonment, suicide or staying in their lives though you are unbearably unhappy?
–Are women more defined and confined in stereotypical roles than men?
–Is a life of self-sacrifice not worth living?

Provocative Quotes byline
–I’m doing what seems the best thing to do.
==VW as she steps into the water.
–Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
==VW writes a phrase later repeated by Clarissa.
–A woman’s whole life in s single day, just one day¢â‚¬¦and in that day her whole life.
==VW about Mrs. Dalloway.
–Oh Mrs. Dalloway, always giving parties to cover the silence.
==Richard to Clarissa.
–This is a group of people who want to tell you your work is going to live.
==Clarissa to Richard.
–I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being less.
–Would you mind if I died. I think I’m only staying alive to satisfy you.
==Richard to Clarissa.
–That is what we do. That is what people do for each other. They stay alive.
==Clarissa to Richard.
–She’s going to die. That’s what’s going to happen. She’ll kill herself over something that doesn’t seem to really matter.
==VW thinking as writing Mrs. Dalloway.
–You are lucky Laura; I don’t think you can call yourself a woman until you are a mother.
==Kitty to Laura.
–This is the life I always wanted. I had an idea about our happiness.
==Laura’s husband to her at birthday dinner.
–Don’t worry honey. Everything is going to be fine. You’re my guy.
==Laura to crying son.
–We return to the place we cam from.
==VW to niece about what happens when we die.
–She is lucky, She has two lives. The life she is living and the books she is writing.
==VW sister to her daughter
¢€œI only want to give a party. He gives me that look to say your life is so trivial
==Clarissa to daughter.
–It only matters if you think it is.
==Daughter replies.
–It was done for us. It was done for your betterment. It was done out of love.
==VW husband about move to country.
–My life has been stolen from me¢â‚¬¦I am attended by doctors who inform me of my own interests.
==VW to husband about her life, especially in the country
–Someone has to die in order for the rest of us to value life.
==VW on why a character in Mrs., Dollway must die.
–I remember one morning getting up at dawn; there was such a sense of possibility. I remember feeling this is the beginning of happiness.
–To look life in the face¢â‚¬¦ to know it is for what it is¢â‚¬¦ to love it for what it is ¢â‚¬¦it is the right of every human being.
–In the film, our women struggle through the day that they’re given, a day they define for themselves and that others have defined for them. “There is a real heroism, and I think that’s one of the things that originally drew me to the script–it’s a day in the life of these three women. And maybe that’s every day. Maybe the journey, and the struggle, and the stoicism and the emotional difficulties they are facing–maybe the battles and heroics are as much in the backyard and in the bedroom, as much when you’re baking a cake in the kitchen as they are climbing mountains or winning wars. I think that often the heroics in women’s lives are underestimated, or put into the background by the heroics in the lives of men. Obviously, the struggles are enormous and profound; just as important, if not more so.
==Director Stephen Daldry.
–While Virginia Woolf is aware of it as an illness, something she struggles with, I think Laura is almost underwater. She’s not a person who’s even present in her life. Her deep unhappiness is the state of her life. What I love about both the novel and the movie is that this is just another day, another morass of a day, and another set of hours she has to get through. What she doesn’t expect is to have a cataclysmic event in it. It shouldn’t be a day that leads to any other, but it is actually her penultimate day in this particular life. If Laura defines herself in any way, she’s a passionate reader. That’s something that I used for myself. She shares that sense of literary-ness with Virginia Woolf.
==Julianne Moore.
–Part of playing someone who really existed is finding her essence. David Hare gave me a lot of insight into her, and of course, Michael Cunningham did, too. Through this period, I just fell in love with her. She was a woman who grappled with death and madness and love. The profundity with which she managed to capture the pathos of life has always been incredibly interesting for me. Yet there was mischievousness, a playfulness and joie de vivre in her that made people want to be in her orbit. They were fascinated by her, attracted to her. And she felt such gratitude to her husband Leonard for being so tolerant of her. So much of what she was fighting for was just being able to breathe, being able to live in London if she wanted to live in London, and not be trapped, as she saw it, out in Richmond. I think that your creativity stems from your environment a lot of the time. That really resonated with me.
==Nicole Kidman.
–But still, it is a movie that is finding much of its support from women who react to its emotional pull, its themes that include self-sacrifice, a struggle to find meaning in life and a sadness that can lead to suicide. Though the movie brings many women to tears, it leaves many men scratching their heads.
==Karen Petersen, USA Today 2/3/03.
–But men tend to criticize, dismayed by the film’s themes. John Talbot, a psychiatrist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was drawn to the movie by the Oscar buzz around the cast and the movie’s strong reviews. “What lesson do we learn from this? What is the message? If you are in a bad situation, do you kill yourself or abandon your children? I don’t understand it.”
==Karen Peterson USA Today 2/3/03.
–For many men, the film is a tough sell, says Stuart Fischoff, a media psychologist at California State University-Los Angeles. “Men will balk” at going to this film, he says. “They do not respond to character-driven performances by women. A woman’s world is not a world they want to enter. It is emotional. And the movie does not move fast.” Also, despite their strong efforts to help, all three men associated with these women “are not contributing to the self-fulfillment of their women,” Fischoff says. “They care about them, but they are not really helping them. And men don’t like to identify with that.”
==USA Today 2/3/03.

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