Twenty years ago today, Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of The Hours was released. Based on Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, it’s a triptych that’s not only based on Virginia Woolf’s seminal novel Mrs. Dalloway, it also features Woolf herself as one of three distinct women addressing melancholic thoughts over the course of the twentieth century. For the film (a Harvey Weinstein-produced vehicle), three major actresses were cast: Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep. Kidman (in a bit of category fraud) won the Best Actress Oscar that year, though it’s Moore and Streep who impress the most with career-high performances – and that’s saying something.
The top-notch cast also includes Toni Colette, Jeff Daniels, John C. Reilly (having a great year that also includes work in Chicago and Gangs of New York), Miranda Richardson, Jack Rovello (as Moore’s young son), and most notably, Ed Harris, excellent in the fourth and final of his nominated roles. (Both he and Reilly, in Chicago, were nominated for Best Supporting Actor that year; both lost, to Chris Cooper, in Adaptation – which also starred Streep!) The film was also recently adapted into an opera starring Joyce DiDonato, Renee Fleming, and Kelli O’Hara, at the Metropolitan Opera.
This is a smart and powerful film about scars of the past and how relationships ebb and flow over time. Go see it again!