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Odd & Ends > "The Hours" (film and book)

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message 1: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 138 comments After rereading "Mrs. Dalloway", I have read "The Hours" and seen the film for the second time. I was surprised that I barely remembered most of the film, but it had been at least 10 years since I saw it.

I had never heard of Vanessa until I'd seen the film.

It was darker than I remembered. Certain scenes were very hard to watch for both my husband and myself (the opening one, for example).

I did enjoy the book very much and really had a great time picking out the characters' counterparts in "Dalloway."

Now I'm hoping to see the film of "Dalloway."


message 2: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments I swore I would not complain any more about The Hours (Sarah has heard it all), and I probably should watch it again and give it another chance (has it really been 10 years since it came out? Probably more.) but I just never got over that prosthetic nose they put on Nicole Kidman and nobody has ever explained to me WHY WHY WHY.

Plus the fact that they made Virginia into a whiny little hiney instead of the self-empowered, witty person we know her to be, and it turned Leonard into a Nanny Fussbudget when we know he was consumed with matters of world politics and whatever it was he did for a living.

Okay. Honest, that is my last word on the subject of her nose.


message 3: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 138 comments Silvio111 wrote: "I swore I would not complain any more about The Hours (Sarah has heard it all), and I probably should watch it again and give it another chance (has it really been 10 years since it came out? Proba..."

I think it came out in 2003, actually.

I dunno...I didn't think the nose was THAT bad. LOL


message 4: by Sarah (last edited Mar 12, 2018 12:12PM) (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
Sandra: I am glad you enjoyed the book. The film disturbs me, too, especially the parts you mentioned. I believe the opening scene is one of the greatest scenes in movie history and that Nicole Kidman totally deserved her Oscar (SILVIO lol). My husband couldn't finish after the final apartment scene. It's an upsettingly powerful work. I wonder if any film will ever affect me as much as that one did. If I had been involved in its production in any way, I would die happy.

Silvio: Leonard was a Nanny Fussbudget! (What the hell is that? I love it!) He was many things to many people - he is vast, he contains multitudes. The only thing I could critique about Stephen Dillane's portrayal of Leonard...

Now, let me stop to cross myself, because we're treading here on holy ground...

Is I don't think he would have flipped his shit in the station like that. I mean, with the shouting and freaking out. It was a bit Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Leonard Woolf was very level and minced people to pieces with sharp words in a monotone voice. On the morning of Virginia's funeral, he went and got a hair cut. Caveat is: LW was still a passionate soul. We all get to freak out sometime. And if anyone was entitled to a good ol' Freak Out - capital F, capital O - it was Leonard Woolf.

Interested to know what you think of Dalloway.


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 138 comments Sarah wrote: "Sandra: I am glad you enjoyed the book. The film disturbs me, too, especially the parts you mentioned. I believe the opening scene is one of the greatest scenes in movie history and that Nicole Kid..."

Do you mean what do I think of the "Dalloway" film or the book itself?


message 6: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments Well, clearly I must watch The Hours again before I can engage with this conversation.

And in fact, I need to reread Mrs. Dalloway as well.


message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
The film. The book as well, if you please. Though I am not overly fond of it...


message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 138 comments I found the film more disturbing upon the second viewing, even though I knew what was going to happen in it. I didn't remember the scene with Laura and Kitty at all. I read an interview with Michael Cunningham where he stated that both Laura and Virginia lived in a time where lesbianism was not considered normal and "The Hours" brings that to the forefront.

I do agree that Leonard probably would not have shouted at the train station. I can only assume they did it for dramatic affect.

Funnily enough, I recall being enamored of Meryl Streep's kitchen upon my first viewing. Didn't affect me at all this time around.


message 9: by Silvio111 (last edited Mar 20, 2018 05:41PM) (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments I just watched The Hours--first time in 16 years.
I had forgotten what an excellent cast it contained.
Still, I think that my quarrel is with Michael Cunningham,if indeed the movie follows the book faithfully. ( i have not read Cunningham's book, nor have i read Mrs. Dalloway or The Hours, at least not since the 1970s and I have the memory of a goldfish.)

However, it seems to me that the story is one about suicide, not really about Virginia or Leonard, for that matter.

How else can we account for the complete absence of Virginia's intelligence and wit? Did they really live in such isolation in Richmond? Did Virginia really hate it so much?

I always picture her among all her friends and i picture Vanessa as a painter, yes, with children, but not such louts as the boys were portrayed.

And did this movie just catch Virginia in one of her lowest periods, with all the joy, sense of humor and snark that we know about her completely missing?

And could they have made her look any more drab? That dress, that hairdo, and of course the damn nose. We know she was beautiful. We have the pictures. What was Stephen Daldry (the director) thinking???

in spite of the excellent acting --and I have to say, I think Julianne Moore's portrayal of Laura, and the little boy's portrayal of the childhood Richard stole the show. Compared to them, Nicole Kidman's performance was wooden if you ask me.

So that is my reaction after all these years. I totally do not remember being as impressed as I am now, when it first came out, by the wonderful performance of Meryl Streep,Claire Danes and Ed Harris.

Seriously though, this movie is enough make one want to jump out the window oneself. That is all I have to say.


message 10: by Silvio111 (last edited Mar 21, 2018 07:11AM) (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments Upon further research, I scanned through the reviews of The Hours that were published at the time (2002). Of course, the great majority of the reviewers were male. I did not do an exhaustive reading, but my completely unscientific scan showed me that virtually all of the reviewers focused on the translation of Michael Cunningham's rather complex novel into the medium of film, and most approved the effect.

Some picked up on the feminist themes of three women all trying to transcend the limited restrictions of the expectations of society upon their lives. (Meryl Streep's role, less so, but she had her issues as well.)

The only female reviewer (Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer) I could find seemed to affirm my own reaction that the portrayal of Virginia left out most of her creative and social positive qualities, turning her into a sort of zombie. She commented, "Virginia was only a part-time madwoman..." This female reviewer also called her nose dreadful. :)

A few reviewers felt the film was grim and that Phillip Glass's score matched that affect (which I felt was a bit unfair to Glass...)

Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that everyone comes to a movie with a different agenda, and I also wonder if any of those reviewers had either read her work or studied, even cursorily, her life?

Aside from my pique about the nose, etc, I did derive some intellectual stimulation from this movie. I noticed the connection between that very intense little-boy Richard, who seemed to suck the very life out of his mother in every scene.

Then Richard grows up, casts a spell on Clarrissa (Streep) that persists for decades, such that she serves as his mother right until his death. His ex-lover (Louis?) also said that after he left Richard, he felt free for the first time.

Much like Richard's real mother, Laura, who had to break free from her married existence (including from Richard). Poor Richard. He seems to have inspired everyone close to him to caretake, except for the ones who felt compelled to flee.

All in all, an interesting movie, especially if you know nothing about the real Virginia and Leonard. This is the problem will all biopics (or quasi-biopics)--it is hard to know the facts from the departures.


message 11: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments Furthermore, did anyone notice that the florist lady was portrayed by Eileen Atkins? Atkins has performed a one-woman show about Virginia Woolf, and she also wrote the screenplay of the earlier movie, MRS DALLOWAY.

My take on her role was that she was the alter ego of Viriginia (in a movie with so many alter egos of Virginia...). That fierce and quizzical way she spoke to Clarissa (Streep) seemed closer to the brilliant Virginia we know than poor altered-state Nicole Kidman's character.

Okay, now I will give it a rest. I promise.


message 12: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 138 comments I love Eileen Atkins. Love her on "Doc Martin."

My husband also felt it was a movie about suicide. I would say the book is not so much about suicide.

Yes, they sure did make Virginia look dowdy. Nose or not. And she was a beautiful and classy lady.

As for Julian and Quentin, I got the impression from some of the books I've read that they were always getting into some sort of trouble as kids. And that Vanessa was very permissive (which seemed to be Angelica's main complaint in "Deceived With Kindness.")


message 13: by Sarah (last edited Mar 22, 2018 02:47PM) (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
I do believe Cunningham intended his dark portrayal of Virginia to be only a snapshot of her character at a specific point - a critical, ultimately powerful, period in her life when she locates the foothold that is going to carry her out of her stagnant depressive state and into a creative life which is much more fulfilling, self-actualizing, self-aware and empowering. This snapshot theme of critical points, rather than suicide, seems to me to be the axis upon which the story turns. I don't imagine he intended to portray Virginia as forever being a muttering depressive...

There is a forthcoming book by Peter Fullagar which questions whether Virginia really hated Richmond. I suppose we all need different things at different times of our life - and what we hated at 36 we may love at 56 - but the idea that Virginia would loathe Richmond for being rural and too far away from London but adore Rodmell - which is far more rural and much farther away from London - doesn't make much sense... perhaps it was the lukewarm in-between that was so frustrating or the sense of being near but far away at the same time. Anyway, I will wait for Mr. Fullagar to inform me. I took a friend to Richmond and her first reaction was: "Virginia WAS crazy!" For wanting to leave Richmond - which is gorgeous and peaceful and wonderful in so many ways...

Eileen Atkins also wrote Vita & Virginia which is winging its way through production as I type. Silvio, that is a fascinating and perceptive observation about her perhaps being a face of Virginia in The Hours.


message 14: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments Oh my goodness, I never realized that Aunt Ruth was Eileen Atkins! What a great role. I gave up on Doc Martin some years ago; he just rubbed me the wrong way, but there were some great characters in that series.

I am not surprised that Vanessa was "permissive." With both herself and Duncan focused on their painting, and with their very lively social life, I don't see her as taking on discipline as her main role in the family.

If I remember correctly, wasn't Eileen Atkins one of the writers of the original Upstairs Downstairs? Then when they revived it (the same year that Downton Abbey started, and sadly, it upstaged the revival of U/D, I think Atkins might have been involved with that project also.

Downton Abbey just wowed everybody so much, and I always felt that Upstairs Downstairs (2) deserved more attention.


message 15: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments Sarah,

Our posts crossed in the ether, so to speak.

AS for Atkins being a reference to Virginia, considering how well-known she is for writing about and portraying Virginia Woolf, to give her a "cameo" role in The Hours presumes that others will make that connection too. Maybe it was Stephen Daldry's apology to the audience for making the character, Virginia, so atypical (i.e, dowdy and whiny little hiney) that he felt he needed to let us know that he really does know Virginia's psyche, and he just throws us a cookie to bribe us to sit through the whole oppressive movie.


message 16: by Silvio111 (new)

Silvio111 | 413 comments p.s. but I do see the logic of your "snapshot" theory of Cunningham's book. That is profound and it makes sense.


message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 584 comments Mod
I can't get into Doc Martin either. I'm usually heavily drawn to INTJ/aspergers type characters but he's just a DICK. And his insipid wife, ugh. It's only worth watching for the filming location and I love Joe Absolom (COME BACK TO EASTENDERS!!!! *sob*).

Silvio, I'm with you on Upstairs Downstairs v Downton Abbey (even in respect to my enduring love for Jim Carter).


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