The Hours (1)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


  Let’s start out by being truthful.  This is a movie about three lesbians, not suicide, which is what I thought going in.  Not your run of the mill lesbians, either.  This is in-your-face lesbianism.  It tells of three generations of lesbian women, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman with a new nose), circa 1920s writing Mrs. Dalloway, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore, reproducing her role in Far From Heaven, circa 1950s reading Mrs. Dalloway), and present day Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), who’s living openly with another woman, and is trying to lend support to Brown’s son, Richard (Ed Harris), who’s dying of AIDS, so we must assume he’s homosexual, too.

 This is a feminist diatribe and it’s true to its core as it shows men as marginalized, at best.  When Laura Brown deserts her family, leaving them with a loving father, Dan Brown (John C. Reilly), apparently the family disintegrates, leaving one with the impression that the filmmakers believe that a loving father is incapable of raising a family without a woman present.  Woolf’s husband, Leonard (Stephan Dillane), is just a wuss, who does whatever Virginia wants.

 This has a PG rating but it’s got several scenes of women kissing each other on the lips.  The worst is Woolf giving her sister a long, passionate kiss firmly on the lips, implying, I guess, that she was not only a lesbian, but an incestuous one as well.  Frankly, I think this is far more morally reprehensible than looking at a woman’s nipple, which guarantees an “R” rating.  To be utterly truthful, I see nothing at all wrong with looking at a woman’s nipple.  I’ve never understood why that will get an “R” rating while showing someone blowing someone else’s head apart right there in living color won’t.  Why is violence tolerated and a woman’s nipple not?  But I digress.

 I didn’t find this movie the least bit depressing (well, wait a minute…having to sit through 114 minutes of this dreck was pretty depressing).  Three of the four principals were suicidal.  They are so selfishly self-centered that they are completely unsympathetic.  It was all about them.  Nobody thought about anybody else, except Vaughan, who, for some reason, tried to help Richard Brown.  I thought all of them should commit suicide so the movie could end mercifully and quickly.  Instead it runs for 114 minutes.  One hundred and fourteen preposterously self-congratulating minutes of shots of people thinking and musing about themselves.

 To think that Julianne Moore received an Oscar nomination for this is astonishing.  Her performance is a perfect duplication of her performance in Far From Heaven. Either she’s not acting or her acting is terminally one-dimensional.   And this Director (Stephen Daldry) does as dismal a job of recreating the ‘50s as did Todd Haynes.  There was more to the ‘50s than cars with large fins and dated fashion.  Neither of these guys has a clue about how to recreate an era with feeling.  I’d hate to see them try the Civil War!

 This film is political correctness to the nth degree.  And everyone feels so sorry for themselves.  Oh, woe is me!  I felt if they were so involved with the sorry mess their attitudes had made of their lives, they should end it all.  Get it over with! There’s a famous defense sometimes used in Texas murder trials, that the victim deserved it.  The way they’re presented here, Woolf and both Browns are so egocentric and inconsiderate, quick suicide would have been a blessing to everyone (especially the audience).

 But what we got were long dialogues, and long, introspective pauses.  The Hours is a pretentious, boring piece of crap.  Movies are an entertainment.  People go to them to be entertained.  One may argue that the special effects of things like Daredevil and the violence and profanity of Dark Blue are entertaining.  I don’t, but some people may find them as such, and I have no argument with their right to that opinion. But there’s nothing entertaining about The Hours. 

 All the critics rave about the acting.  Horse pucky.  Nothing this boring could have acting that was any good.  If the acting were any good it wouldn’t be so boring.  And this isn’t just my opinion.  I’ve only talked to four people who enjoyed this.  Most, including women, abhorred it; many walked out. The person with whom I attended the film was a woman who fell asleep several times and was so angry with me for insisting we attend that she didn’t speak to me for three minutes after the film ended (her personal record for silence!). 

 I can’t wrap this up without mentioning the syrupy music (Phillip Glass).  It blares throughout.  It makes an unentertaining movie even less enjoyable. 

 Don’t eschew attending this film that takes itself oh, so seriously, out of fear you might be depressed.  You won’t care enough about the disagreeable characters to find anything about them depressing, except their continuance.  Unless you enjoy tedium, I’d avoid this like the plague.

 March 1, 2003

 The End