Five words sum up Nicole Kidman’s performance in the new film, “The Hours”: The prosthetic nose truly works. Okay, she did accurately portray the notoriously uncanny Virginia Woolf, but come on, one can’t help but wonder if she won that Golden Globe for the extra life-like rubber doodad glued to her face.
Adapted from the novel “The Hours,” director Stephen Daldry takes the interestingly interwoven tale of three women, and visually connects their stories into one cohesive yarn about ultimate alienation and longing for freedom. Each woman encompasses a different time period, with Virginia Woolf in the early 1920s, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) at the end of World War II, and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) representing the modern-day woman.
Upon arriving to the theater, one couldn’t help but notice the vast abundance of grandmas and, generally speaking, women over the age of 45. Quickly sitting down, Artsweek’s movie companion noted, “Gee, we’re pushing the age minimum.” Despite the drought of young folks in the theater, it would be a lie to say that only older women would enjoy this movie. In many ways it’s nice to see an often-neglected audience being attracted to the movies. It just goes to show those Hollywood executives that 15-year-old boys aren’t the only people seeing movies these days.
Once the film began, I couldn’t take me eyes off it, literally. The acting is none other than superb with the three leading ladies showcasing their utmost capabilities. Julianne Moore portrayed the role of the lonely and desperate wife/mother amazingly well. Skepticism lurked before seeing the film as to whether Julianne could pull it off (basing her acting skills on Clarice from “Hannibal”) but, in the end, she does. Then Clarissa connects with Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. She plays hostess to her dying friend Richard’s party, in which she is trapped behind a facade of bitter happiness. Meanwhile, the threat of losing the friend she loves creates an inner turmoil that Clarissa is forced to address. Finally, Nicole Kidman is the famous and utterly mad Virginia Woolf. Kidman plays the part of a depressed and alienated Virginia so well that one forgets the character was actually Kidman. However, Kidman’s character could have used more development. Moving between the three stories, the characters didn’t get enough time to truly form. Then again, when alternating between three characters in a two-hour film, it can be a true challenge to capture the each woman’s essence.
Deftly addressing the timeless issue of depressed middle-class women – and also lesbianism – this is an unlikely story to be told on screen. Honestly, though, this film is worth seeing. The story is creeping in pace, but to go any faster would take away from the complicated, weaving plot. Though the tone is melancholy, the acting is utterly exceptional with thought-provoking subject matter. When leaving, one can’t help feeling a sense of appreciation and hope for more challenging and talented portrayals of female characters to grace the screens.