Movie Review: The Hours

THE HOURS is an old movie shown about a year ago, starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep. I remember first watching it with my mom and sister back then. We all felt then that it was one movie that had to be seen again to be able to fully grasp the story’s message.

I chanced upon a VCD copy at Video City last week and decided to watch it again last night. It still had the same mind-stirring effect on me. There were old questions that leave me with no answers until now. Some scenes remain hazy to me. (It’s quite pathetic to be left in wander land after having watched it a second time).

Though I admit some segments to be confusing to my pretty mind, to my analysis I think the story, through an interweaving of three tales, conveys personal bouts and struggles to freedom and happiness. It is a story of three individual quests for more meaningful lives.

Nicole Kidman acted as Virginia Woolf, the writer of the novel “Mrs. Dalloway.” With a history of suffering from temporary insanity, she fights to overcome this and struggles to finish her novel. When she decided to end her novel with the death of a character, her husband asked why she had to let the character die, to which she answered, “Someone has to die in order for the rest of us to treasure our life more.”

For most of her life, Mrs. Woolf could not find the happiness she seeks. Her writing and cooking could not give her the self-confidence she needed. Her husband seemed to be blind to her needs, setting a printing press for his wife in the belief that he was doing it for love. But Virginia’s fears far exceeded the worries of her unfinished novel. Her greatest fear was the thought of being alone, that even in the midst of other people or being surrounded by a family, she was still alone in her battles to life. In the end, after finishing her novel, she drowned herself in the river. I took her suicide as her final bid to a melancholy life. In death she found the peace and happiness she could not find in living. And now we hope that her death also made her husband treasure his life more.

Julianne Moore was Laura Brown of the World War II era. She was a lady with a son trapped in a marriage she no longer found worthy of keeping. Her pregnancy made her decide to wait until her second child was born before quitting on life. Meanwhile, she reads the novel, “Mrs. Dalloway” which later on pushed her to do the things she really wanted in life.

Laura thought of taking her life but soon learned she could not do it. She went back to her son and husband and continued with her pregnancy, afterwhich she turned her back and abandoned her family completely.

Meryl Streep played Clarissa who was like the modern Mrs. Dalloway of the novel written decades back by Virginia Woolf. She comes from the modern era whose partner, Richard (played by Richard Harris) is dying of AIDS. Everyone thought Mrs. Dalloway had everything in life. But deep inside she cringed in loneliness and insecurity. She tried to make Richard’s life normal inspite of the fatal sickness. But in the end Richard was not really happy living in pain and cropped up in an apartment like waiting for his last breath. He was a writer doomed to his death anytime soon. He commited suicide just hours before his party.

Laura is brought back to the picture, aged in time, who turned out to be the lost mother of Richard. As Clarissa and Laura discussed the death of Richard, Clarissa began to realize and accept her loneliness and insecurities.

The Hours is a difficult film to watch in my opinion but since I do not believe in complications, I choose to take in the messages the movie wanted to dust off the surface. If I will delve into the title and relate it to the whole course of finding one’s meaning and happiness in life, then the whole movie suddenly becomes so simple. The ticking of the clock goes one second at a time. Its constant pacing may be slow to some, too fast for a few. Then again, the ticking continues, and if you can’t jive in the rhythm then the world will just be sorry to eat you up. Choosing to end your life does not stop the ticking of time. If one thinks there is peace and happiness six feet under, the question is, who among the living have actually experienced death to certify the condition beneath a heap of soil?

I think the movie did not perceive suicide as an immoral action, rather as just another form of death, like a personal choice some people take in pursuit of real happiness. In the end, life still remains a personal struggle where individual decisions are taken. We have our time limits in this world and how we use our time to achieve what will make us truly happy is really dependent on our own set of beliefs, choices and decisions. We do what we have to do before our game is over. The hours count.
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