DVD Review
The Hours
The Hours poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published June 27, 2003
US Release: December 27, 2002

Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Nicole Kidman , Julianne Moore , Meryl Streep , John C. Reilly

Running Time: 114 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $41,598,000
14 of 143
While it is incredibly well performed, I was never thoroughly engrossed enough to label The Hours as a terrific achievement
The Hours, more than anything else, is a showcase of acting abilities ? the trio of actresses here present performances that are intensely focused on the details of the moment or scene.

That component, alongside the fine direction by Stephen Daldry, builds up to quite a rewarding experience. The only crucial thing that hurt my opinion about the film was my emotional attachment, as while it is incredibly well performed, I was never thoroughly engrossed enough to label The Hours as a terrific achievement.
Having seen quite a few mediocre-to-poor movies on DVD lately, it?s a relief to be able to sit back and enjoy the more sophisticated releases, even if it?s due to the filmmaking and not so much the entertainment factor. The Hours, in that argument, is not necessarily for viewing pleasure; it is a film piece to observe, as the story is mostly a character study of three depressed women.

Movies like these aren?t going to be appreciated by everyone, but there?s generally a decent audience for this specific genre, however grim the subject at hand is. The Hours never did come off (to me) as depressing as some thought it would be, but then again I usually have a way with rather sad stories; often times they don?t bother my viewing experience, or at least not in the ways of damaging my reaction.

The Hours centers around three middle-aged women ? Virginia Wolf (Nicole Kidman), Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep). While all three personas are told (in a sense) at the same time, each of their characters is living in a time span altered from the other. The time difference is also reflected beautifully through the art direction, costume design, and really, the performances.

Each of the leading female characters in The Hours is confronting mid-life crisis issues in some way or another; and with no real plot to follow, the camera slides into these women?s every-day lives, allowing us to make our own judgment. It is their problems and opinions that shape the story, not actual actions, which makes the picture a unique project. We watch and listen, not necessarily to what is being done, but really what is being operated beneath the page. And with the results, we?re delivered a film that not only screams Oscar, but is a big treat compared to most of the other films out there that don?t require even an ounce of mental dedication.

Credit for The Hours functioning the way it does should, let alone go to director Daldry, be also directed to the three ladies on the poster. Though Moore?s performance didn?t exactly sell me through the roof (or her character?s actions), it is Kidman and Streep who really shine in their portrayals, with Kidman the real highlight of the show. Without her name centered on the marquee, it would be logical to question who this actress was, so unrecognizable in both appearance and delivery, that it?s an eye-opener to the possibilities that can come from the magical essence of acting.

Though I thought this film was a bit over-rated (compared with some critics? opinions), mainly since my emotional attachment was not incredibly present the entire duration, The Hours is nevertheless a fine achievement in terms of an ensemble of icon figures giving in to changing that icon figure. These actresses alter their personalities, even if we always know whom they really are, to the point where we?re not just looking at a film, but also a glimpse of reality.

And that?s what makes this picture as enjoyable (from a filmmaking perspective) to witness ? rather than feeling contrived or faked, it feels as if the camera is being placed in real life conditions, letting these souls take over with each of their own stories to express. It is their stories, however minor or major in subject, that impact the viewing experience; and by the end of the running time, these people are in our heads.

The ambition of a character study is not only to inform, but also make you remember its members long after the experience has concluded; and with The Hours, the ensemble has handed over just that.

DVD Features:
- Commentary by Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman
- Commentary by Director Stephen Daldry and Novelist Michael Cunningham
- Filmmakers Introduction
- 4 Featurettes
- Theatrical Trailer
- Widescreen

Audio Features:
- (English) Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround Sound
- French (English Subtitles)
Lee's Grade: B+
Ranked #14 of 143 between The Ring (#13) and The Good Girl (#15) for 2002 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2995 graded movies
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'The Hours' Articles
  • Lee's review B
    February 9, 2003    A showcase of what three great actresses can accomplish -- Lee Tistaert