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The Hours (2002)

Directed by:

Stephen Daldry

Rating: 1/10

Running Time: 120 minutes

UK Certificate: 12a

The Hours certainly has an understated title – this film feels as if it drags on for not just hours”, but days. And long, excruciating, verge-of-suicide days at that.

Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Michael Cunningham, the film constantly skips between Sussex in 1941, LA in 1951 and New York in 2001, where three equally pretentious tales are waiting to unfold before our very eyes. So Nicole Kidman for some reason dons a ridiculous false nose to play frumpy clinically-barking novelist Virginia Woolf, Julianne Moore plays a suicidal housewife with a sickeningly-perfect family, and Meryl Streep goes into melodramatic overdrive as a woman planning a party for her gay, AIDS-suffering, ex (Ed Harris). Laugh-a-minute stuff, eh?

It’s all self-important dross, and what’s worse is that it has absolutely no faith in women, painting them all as closet lesbians who’d rather run away or kill themselves than face up to their “problems”. I put the word “problems” in quotation marks because at one point Pinocchio – sorry, I mean Virginia – says, in full seriousness, “If it is a choice between Richmond and death, I choose death.” Oh, come on – the place can’t be THAT bad!!

The Hours features some of the most painful over-acting I’ve seen in a modern film, and tries far too hard to come across as deep and meaningful – in reality, Weekend At Bernie’s is more thought-provoking than this turgid affair. And is it just me, or does Philip Glass’ score sound as if it’s been lifted straight out of a cheesy US daytime soap opera?

Personally I have no problem with a film being depressing if there is at least some point to it all – but the only obvious point to this rank rotten piece of cinema is the one on the end of Nicole Kidman’s gargantuan hooter, which seriously looks as if it could fall off at any moment. The sad thing is, if it DID fall off, it would easily be the best part of the film by a long, long way.

It's Got: An ending that can’t come quickly enough. By my calculations it would have been infinitely more enjoyable if it had finished about 2 hours earlier.

It Needs: To give Nicole Kidman her own nose back and stop being so pretentious.

Alternatives:

seriously., Sit in a dark room weeping. No

Summary

The “twist” is predictable, the soundtrack lousy and the acting unnatural at best. A truly awful film.