The Hours (film): Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hours

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Produced by Robert Fox
Scott Rudin
Written by David Hare
Based on the novel by Michael Cunningham
Starring Nicole Kidman
Julianne Moore
Meryl Streep
Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography Seamus McGarvey
Editing by Peter Boyle
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (US)
Miramax Films (worldwide)
Release date(s) December 25, 2002 (2002-12-25)
(New York & L.A.)
02002-12-27 December 27, 2002
(United States)
02003-02-14 February 14, 2003
(United Kingdom)
Running time 114 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $25 million
Gross revenue $108,846,072

The Hours is a 2002 American–British drama film directed by Stephen Daldry, and starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Ed Harris. The screenplay by David Hare is based on the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by Michael Cunningham.

The plot focuses on three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Among them are Clarissa Vaughan (Streep), a New Yorker preparing an award party for her AIDS-stricken long-time friend and poet, Richard (Harris) in 2001; Laura Brown (Moore), a pregnant 1950s California housewife with a young boy and an unhappy marriage; and Virginia Woolf herself (Kidman) in 1920s England, who is struggling with depression and mental illness whilst trying to write her novel.

The film was released in Los Angeles and New York City on Christmas Day 2002, and was given a limited release in the US and Canada two days later on December 27, 2002. It did not receive a wide release in the US until January 2003, and was then released in UK cinemas on Valentine's Day that year. Critical reaction to the film was mostly positive, and Nicole Kidman won an Oscar at the 2003 Academy Awards for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf.



With the exception of the opening and final scenes, which depict the 1941 suicide by drowning of Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) in the River Ouse, the action takes place within the span of a single day in three different years, and alternates among them throughout the film. In 1923, renowned author Woolf has begun writing the book Mrs. Dalloway in her home in the town of Richmond in suburban London. In 1951, troubled Los Angeles housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) tries to find escape from her dreary existence by reading the same book. In 2001, New Yorker Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is the embodiment of the title character of Woolf's work as she spends the day preparing for a party she is hosting in honor of her friend Richard, a poet and author living with AIDS who is to receive an award for career achievement.

Virginia, who has experienced several nervous breakdowns and suffers from recurring bouts of severe depression, feels trapped in her home. Intimidated by her servants, Nelly and Lottie, and constantly monitored by her husband Leonard, who operates the Hogarth Press at home in order to be in close proximity to her at all times, Woolf both welcomes and dreads an afternoon visit from her sister Vanessa and her children. After their departure, Virginia flees to the railway station where she is awaiting a train to central London when Leonard arrives to bring her home. He expresses his distress at living in constant fear of her making a further attempt on his life; she replies that she also lives under the permanent threat of a return to mental illness, but argues that she has to live as she is and not seek a refuge from the reality of her identity.

Pregnant with her second child, Laura spends her days in her tract home with her timid, clinging young son Richie. She married her husband, Dan, soon after World War II and on the surface they are living the American Dream; she is nevertheless, deeply unhappy. She and Richie prepare a birthday cake for Dan's birthday, but the end result is a disaster. Her neighbor Kitty unexpectedly drops in to ask her if she can feed her dog while she's in the hospital undergoing a medical procedure. Kitty is trying to remain upbeat, but Laura senses her fear and boldly kisses her on the lips, a gesture Kitty accepts, although she ignores any hidden meaning it may have had. With renewed determination, Laura bakes another cake, this time successfully, cleans the kitchen, and then takes Richie to stay with Mrs. Latch while she supposedly runs some errands before dinner. Instead she checks into a luxury hotel, where she intends to commit suicide. Before taking the pills she has brought with her, she begins to read Mrs. Dalloway and drifts off to sleep. Awakening from a dream in which the hotel room was flooded, she has a change of heart, picks up Richie, and returns home, where the family celebrates Dan's birthday.

Clarissa, stressed in particular about the celebration dinner she's planning for her close friend Richard, particularly by his increasingly debilitating illness, is a bundle of nerves as she tries to accomplish all she needs to do before Richard's award ceremony. The two were romantic during their college days, but he has spent the better part of his life engaging in gay relationships, including one with Louis Waters, who left him years ago but is returning to Manhattan from his home in San Francisco for the festivities. Clarissa herself is a lesbian who has been living with Sally Lester for 10 years, and the mother of university student Julia, both of whom are trying to help her prepare. Eventually we discover Richard is in fact young Richie Brown, Laura's son. When Clarissa arrives at his apartment to help him dress for the ceremony, she finds him in a manic state. Perched on the window ledge, he confesses he has struggled to stay alive for Clarissa's sake but, no longer willing to live with his illness, he throws himself out a window. Later that night Laura, having been notified of her son's suicide by Clarissa, arrives at her apartment. Laura reveals her decision to abandon her family after the birth of her daughter was one she needed to make in order to maintain her sanity.



Critical reception

Stephen Holden of the New York Times called the film "deeply moving" and "an amazingly faithful screen adaptation" and added, "Although suicide eventually tempts three of the film's characters, The Hours is not an unduly morbid film. Clear eyed and austerely balanced would be a more accurate description, along with magnificently written and acted. Mr. Glass's surging minimalist score, with its air of cosmic abstraction, serves as ideal connective tissue for a film that breaks down temporal barriers."[1]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle observed, "Director Stephen Daldry employs the wonderful things cinema can do in order to realize aspects of The Hours that Cunningham could only hint at or approximate on the page. The result is something rare, especially considering how fine the novel is, a film that's fuller and deeper than the book ... It's marvelous to watch the ways in which [David Hare] consistently dramatizes the original material without compromising its integrity or distorting its intent ... Cunningham's [novel] touched on notes of longing, middle-aged angst and the sense of being a small consciousness in the midst of a grand mystery. But Daldry and Hare's [film] sounds those notes and sends audiences out reverberating with them, exalted."[2]

Richard Schickel of Time criticized its simplistic characterization, saying that: "Watching The Hours, one finds oneself focusing excessively on the unfortunate prosthetic nose Kidman affects in order to look more like the novelist. And wondering why the screenwriter, David Hare, and the director, Stephen Daldry, turn Woolf, a woman of incisive mind, into a hapless ditherer." He also criticized its overt politicization: "But this movie is in love with female victimization. Moore's Laura is trapped in the suburban flatlands of the '50s, while Streep's Clarissa is moored in a hopeless love for Laura's homosexual son (Ed Harris, in a truly ugly performance), an AIDS sufferer whose relentless anger is directly traceable to Mom's long-ago desertion of him. Somehow, despite the complexity of the film's structure, this all seems too simple-minded. Or should we perhaps say agenda driven? The same criticisms might apply to the fact that both these fictional characters (and, it is hinted, Woolf herself) find what consolation they can in a rather dispassionate lesbianism. This ultimately proves insufficient to lend meaning to their lives or profundity to a grim and uninvolved film, for which Philip Glass unwittingly provides the perfect score — tuneless, oppressive, droning, painfully self-important."[3]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film, which he thought "sometimes stumbles on literary pretensions," two out of four stars. He praised the performances, commenting, "Kidman's acting is superlative, full of passion and feeling ... Moore is wrenching in her scenes with Laura's son (Jack Rovello, an exceptional child actor). And Streep is a miracle worker, building a character in the space between words and worlds. These three unimprovable actresses make The Hours a thing of beauty."[4]

Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times said it "is the most finely crafted film of the past year that I never want to sit through again. The performances are flawless, the screenplay is intelligently crafted, and the overall mood is relentlessly bleak. It is a film to be admired, not embraced, and certainly not to be enjoyed for any reason other than its expertise ... Glacially paced and somberly presented, The Hours demands that viewers be as impressed with the production as the filmmakers are with themselves ... Whatever the reason - too gloomy, too slow, too slanted - [it] is too highbrow and admirably dull for most moviegoers. It's the kind of film that makes critics feel smarter by recommending it, even at the risk of damaging credibility with mainstream audiences who automatically think any movie starring Kidman, Streep and Moore is worth viewing. The Hours will feel like days for them."[5]

Phillip French of The Observer called it "a moving, somewhat depressing film that demands and rewards attention." He thought "the performances are remarkable" but found the Philip Glass score to be "relentless" and "over-amplified."[6]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian rated the film three out of five stars and commented, "It is a daring act of extrapolation, and a real departure from most movie-making, which can handle only one universe at a time . . . The performances that Daldry elicits . . . are all strong: tightly managed, smoothly and dashingly juxtaposed under a plangent score. I have to confess I am agnostic about Nicole Kidman, who as Woolf murmurs her lines through an absurd prosthetic nose. It's almost a Hollywood Disability. You've heard of Daniel Day-Lewis and My Left Foot. This is Nicole and her Big Fake Schnoz. It doesn't look anything like the real Virginia's sharp, fastidious features . . . Julianne Moore gives [a] superbly controlled, humane performance . . . Streep's performance is probably the most fully realised of the three: a return to the kind of mature and demanding role on which she had a freehold in yesterday's Hollywood . . . Part of the bracing experimental impact of the film was the absence of narrative connection between the three women. Supplying one in the final reel undermines its formal daring, but certainly packs an emotional punch. It makes for an elegant and poignant chamber music of the soul."[7]

Box office

The Hours opened in New York City and Los Angeles on Christmas Day 2002 and went into limited release in the United States and Canada two days later. It grossed $1,070,856 on eleven screens in its first two weeks of release. On January 10, 2003, it expanded to 45 screens, and the following week it expanded to 402. On February 14 it went into wide release, playing in 1,003 theaters in the US and Canada.[8] With an estimated budget of $25 million, the film eventually earned $41,675,994 in the US and Canada and $67,170,078 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $108,846,072. It was the 56th highest grossing film of 2002.[9]


The film's score by Philip Glass won the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

Additional awards and nominations


External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Hours is a 2002 Academy Award winning drama about three women of different generations and times whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs. Dalloway, written by Virginia Woolf. The action in the movie takes place within the span of one day in the life of each of the three women, just as Woolf's 'Mrs.Dalloway' takes place within the span of one day in Mrs.Dalloway's life. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award winning 1998 novel, The Hours, by Michael Cunningham.

Directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Michael Cunningham and David Hare.


Virginia Woolf

  • Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of these terrible times again and I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices and can't concentrate. So I'm doing what seems to be the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I know that I'm spoiling your life and without me you could work, and you will, I know. You see, I can't even write this properly. What I want to say is that I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me. And incredibly good. Everything is gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
    • Virginia's letter to Leonard
  • Leonard, I believe I may have a first sentence.
  • Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
  • A woman's whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day her whole life.
  • It's on this day. This day of all days. Her fate becomes clear to her.
  • I can't think of anything more exhilarating than a trip to London.
  • I am saying, Vanessa, that even crazy people like to be asked.
  • Did it matter, then, she asked herself, walking toward Bond Street. Did it matter that she must inevitably cease, completely. All this must go on without her. Did she resent it? Or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? It is possible to die. It is possible to die.
  • I've been attended by doctors, who inform me of my own interests.
  • I am ungrateful? You call me ungrateful? My life has been stolen from me. I'm living in a town I have no wish to live in. I'm living a life I have no wish to live. How did this happen?
  • If I were thinking clearly, Leonard, I would tell you that I wrestle alone in the dark, in the deep dark. And that only I can know, only I can understand my own condition. You live with the threat, you tell me you live with the threat of my extinction. Leonard, I live with it too. This is my right; it is the right of every human being. I choose not the suffocating anesthetic of the suburbs but the violent jolt of the Capital. That is my choice. The meanest patient, yes, even the very lowest is allowed some say in the matter of her own prescription. Thereby she defines her humanity. I wish, for your sake, Leonard, I could be happy in this quietness. But if it is a choice between Richmond and death, I choose death.
  • You cannot find peace by avoiding life, Leonard.
  • Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It's contrast.
  • Dear Leonard. To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard. Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.

Laura Brown

  • Oh I'm gonna make a cake. That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna make the cake for daddy's birthday.
  • Obviously, you feel unworthy. Gives you feelings of unworthiness. You survive and they don't.
  • There are times when you don't belong and you think you're going to kill yourself. Once I went to a hotel. Later that night I made a plan. The plan was I would leave my family when my second child was born. And that's what I did. I got up one morning, made breakfast, went to the bus stop, got on a bus. I'd left a note. I got a job in a library in Canada. It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean? What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear. There it is. No-one's going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life.

Clarissa Vaughan

  • Sally, I think I'll buy the flowers myself.
  • That is what we do. That is what people do. They stay alive for each other.
  • Why is everything wrong?
  • When I'm with him I feel... Yes, I am living. And when I'm not with him... Yes, everything does seem sort of silly.
  • I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.

Richard Brown

  • Oh, Mrs. Dalloway... Always giving parties to cover the silence.
  • I wanted to be a writer, that's all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it's all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity.
  • Would you be angry if I died?
  • Just wait till I die. Then you'll have to think of yourself. How are you going to like that?
  • I had this fantastic notion. I took the Xanax and the Ritalin together. It had never occurred to me!
  • I've stayed alive for you. But now you have to let me go.
  • I don't think two people could have been happier than we've been.


  • Leonard: Do you think it's possible that bad writing actually attracts a higher incidence of error?
  • Sally: Why do I always have to sit next to the exes? Is this some kind of a hint, sweetheart? And anyway, shouldn't the exes have a table of their own where they can all ex together in ex-quisite agony?
  • Kitty: All my life I could do everything. I could do anything, really. Except the one thing I wanted.
  • Louis: The day I left him I got on a train and made my way across Europe. I felt free for the first time in years.
  • Vanessa: Your aunt is a very lucky woman, Angelica. She has two lives. She has the life she is leading and also the books she is writing.
  • Julia: They're all here, aren't they? All the ghosts... All the ghosts are assembling for the party!
  • Dan: The thought of this life, that's what kept me going. I had an idea of our happiness.
  • Julia: So that's the monster.


Clarissa: I'm having a party. My friend Richard has won the Carrouthers.
Florist: Well that's just terrific! If I knew what it was.

Richard: Who is this party for?
Clarissa: What are you asking, what are you trying to say?
Richard: I'm not trying to say anything. I think I'm staying alive just to satisfy you.

Richard: We want everything, don't we?
Clarissa: I suppose we do.

Clarissa: Just to let you know I am making the crab thing. Not that I imagine it makes any difference to you.
Richard: Of course it makes a difference. I love the crab thing.

Laura: [We're] baking the cake to show him that we love him.
Richie: Otherwise he won't know we love him?
Laura: That's right.

Vanessa: Virginia.
Virginia: Leonard thinks it's the end of civilization: People who are invited at 4 and arrive at 2:30.
Vanessa: Oh God.
Virginia: Barbarians.

Kitty: Oh, you're reading a book?
Laura: Yeah.
Kitty: What's this one about?
Laura: Oh, it's about this woman who's incredibly — well, she's a hostess and she's incredibly confident and she's going to give a party. And maybe because she's confident, everyone thinks she's fine... but she isn't.

Virginia:Do you think she like roses?
Angelica:Is it a she?
Virginia:Yes: the females are larger... and less colorfull.


Angelica: What happens when we die?
Virginia: What happens? [pause] We return to the place that we came from.
Angelica: I don't remember where I came from.
Virginia: Nor do I.
Angelica:...She looks smaller
Virginia: Yes, that's one of the things that happens. You look smaller.
Angelica:But so peaceful...

Clarissa: He came out behind me. He put his hand on my shoulder... 'Good morning, Mrs. Dalloway.' [pause] From then on I've been stuck.
Louis: Stuck?
Clarissa: Yep. With the name, I mean.

Angelica: What were you thinking about?
Virginia: I was going to kill my heroine. But I've changed my mind. [pause] I fear I may have to kill someone else instead.

Virginia: You return to what?
Vanessa: Tonight. Oh, just some insufferable dinner not even you could envy, Virginia.
Virginia: But I do.

Julia: You can't see that? You can't see that Louis Waters is weird?
Clarissa: I can see that he's sad.
Julia: Well. All your friends are sad.

Clarissa: He gives me that look.
Julia: What look?
Clarissa: To say: Your life is trivial. You are so trivial.

Richard: I don't think I can make it to the party, Clarissa.
Clarissa: You don't have to go to the party, you don't have to go to the ceremony, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. You can do as you like.
Richard: But I still have to face the hours, don't I? I mean, the hours after the party, and the hours after that...
Clarissa: You do have good days still. You know you do.
Richard: Not really. I mean, it's kind of you to say so, but it's not really true.


See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address