The Hours | Chicago Reader

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I haven't read Michael Cunningham's novel, which presumably tries to capture the postmodernist “essence” of Virginia Woolf and her novel Mrs. Dalloway in three interwoven stories about three characters in different periods: Woolf in the 20s, an LA housewife in the 50s, and a woman in contemporary Manhattan. But David Hare's screen adaptation, directed by Stephen Daldry—clearly conceived as a showcase for three talented actresses (Nicole Kidman as Woolf, Julianne Moore as the housewife, and Meryl Streep as the New Yorker)—reduces Woolf and her art to a set of feminist stances and a few plot points, without reference to style or form. Kidman manages something closer to impersonation than performance (for which she won an Oscar), and Moore gets beyond mannerism only when she reappears in the present; only Streep, in a less demanding part, comes out clearly ahead. With Ed Harris, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels (especially good), John C. Reilly, and Toni Collette. 114 min.

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