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Movie Review: The Hours

Story: Store away your holiday spirit and good cheer if you go to see this film. The Hours is about mental illness, suicide, depression, pill popping, human connections and the search for meaning in one's life. Put that in your holiday stocking and smoke it! I don't mean to scare you away. This is a brilliant, beautifully shot, well acted, but difficult film -- and definitely not for everyone. This particular movie lover was awash in it.

Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) sticks very close (I am told) to the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Cunningham, thanks to a screenplay by David Hare.

Without giving the plot away, it is about three women, living in three different time periods, each with her own set of problems and all trying to cope with finding meaning and sense of life in that elusive quest for happiness. The common thread is Virginia Woolf's bookMrs. Dalloway, whose working title was, The Hours.

The seamless segues from one character to another is handled artistically. Each time period has a different hue and feel. I was fully absorbed in each character but longed to see more of Virginia Woolf.

For my fellow lunk-heads who have not read much (or any) Virginia Woolf and are fearful of not getting it -- not to worry. This film is masterful and anyone can get it. For a quick primer on Virginia Woolf, how about checking out this site: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/vwoolf.htm

Acting: Dead on (no pun intended). Unless you have been on another planet you have heard about Nicole Kidman's fake nose for her part as Woolf. She is unrecognizable with this proboscis. I think she looks even better this way -- much more interesting. (It would be a hoot if it turned out that it wasn't really Kidman playing the part.) With all that said, she is wonderful, as Woolf. Meryl Streep (as the contemporary woman) is consistently good, but this is the type of part I have seen her play before and I guess I expect nothing but brilliance from her. I was not disappointed. Julianne Moore (as the woman from the 50s) is also terrific. Her tour de force performance in Far From Heaven (same time period) is even better. Ed Harris is great as is Stephen Dillane.

Predilections: None (really) -- okay, I admit to liking dark themes.

Critters: A dead bird.

Food: A big scene about a birthday cake, much talk about ginger and lots of food for a party.

Visual Art: The three different time periods called for specific attention to detail for each. It was accomplished beautifully with paintings, prints and posters that represent all of the characters, fittingly.

Blatant Product Placement: Domino Sugar, Pillsbury Flour, Cascade dishwasher detergent (I recognized it because it is the brand I use), Balducci's Market, Xanax and Ritalin.

Soundtrack: A score by Philip Glass that is beautiful and most times, haunting.

Opening Titles: Simple. We are plunged into the film, literally.

Theater Audience: SOLD OUT! Can you imagine that a 10:30 AM show was SOLD OUT? As were the remaining shows for the day. Yikes! So much for this City's holiday cheer. By the way, someone's cell phone went off about five minutes from the end of the film -- you know -- one of those annoying ding-alingy, cutesy type of rings? I thought she was going to be killed. This was a tough, NYC early morning crowd.

Tissue Usage: None for me, but there was some sniffling from the folks around me.

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. Meryl Streep has made some fine films. Here are some of my favorites: Adaptation, Dancing at Lughnasa, Marvin's Room, Defending Your Life, A Cry in the Dark, Ironweed, Out of Africa, Silkwood, Sophie's Choice, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Kramer Vs. Kramer and The Deer Hunter.

Length: A little under two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 9 (I struggled with this Howls rating. I was going to give it an 8, but can't seem to get it out of my head.So, in the holiday spirit, I am giving it a 9). Maybe the 9 would cheer up one of those depressed ladies in the film.