8:00 PM, 15th August, 2003
The Hours explores three women, three contrapuntal stories, and three strangely parallel lives, all meditatively swimming around Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf (confidently played by our own beloved proboscis, 'Nic') is contemplating her suicide in a moment of inner clarity whilst writing the novel in the 1920s. Laura (Moore) is a 1950s housewife discovering the nature of her existence and her own stifled desires whilst reading the novel. And there is a 1990's woman, Clarissa (Streep), who, while caring for her AIDS ravaged ex-lover (Harris) discovers she is living it. Two of these stories eventually intertwine in a rather remarkable way. The film portentously explores the nature of life, what it means to decide to live, the social and metaphysical progression of women, female duty, family, responsibilities (and even lesbianism) in a rather metaphorical and lyrical way, so be prepared to think. Based on Michael Cunningham's best selling book of the same name, you will either find The Hours a melancholic, poignant and masterful paean about the preciousness of life... or you will find it extremely boring. Nevertheless, I think this is one isn't to be missed.
10:00 PM, 15th August, 2003
Have you ever wanted to see the perfect 1950s family crumble?
The film opens into an image of the Whitakers, an ideal family straight out of the pages of a magazine. The breadwinner husband (Quaid) goes off to his office job, the perfectly groomed housewife bakes an apple pie, and two well-disciplined children are seen but not heard. Well actually, the son is heard and reprimanded when he says "shucks". The household servants are African-American and there is initially considerable awkwardness in Cathy Whitaker's (Moore) dealings with them ? especially the new male gardener...
The sets, costumes and the colouring of the film are accurately faithful to the style of the 1950s. The film's real strength, however, is that it is true to the mindset of the 1950s. Cathy's friendly attitude to her black gardener (Haysbert) leaves her rejected from her knitting group, and Mr Whitaker feels just "despicable" about his homosexuality ? gosh, darn and jimny-cricket.
What makes this picture really worth seeing is that you will come to understand the real nature of perfect 1950s America. The film really does capture the underlying fear that permeated Cold War society, the rejection of civil rights and interracial love, as well as the unmentionable 'sickness' (homosexuality). The story is refreshingly free from irony, except of course that 1950s American society is certainly far from heaven