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The Hours

The Hours (2002)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 186
Fresh: 150 | Rotten: 36

The movie may be a downer, but it packs an emotional wallop. Some fine acting on display here.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 8

The movie may be a downer, but it packs an emotional wallop. Some fine acting on display here.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 84,363

My Rating

Movie Info

Three women, separated by a span of nearly 80 years, find themselves weathering similar crises, all linked by a single work of literature in this film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Michael Cunningham. In 1923, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is attempting to start work on her novel Mrs. Dalloway, in which she chronicles one day in the life of a troubled woman. But Virginia has demons of her own, and she struggles to overcome the depression and suicidal impulses that have



David Hare

Jun 24, 2003


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All Critics (200) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (150) | Rotten (36) | DVD (30)

David Hare's screen adaptation reduces Woolf and her art to a set of feminist stances and a few plot points, without reference to style or form.

February 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (2)
Chicago Reader
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A boldly realised, affecting work.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A puzzling and forbidding strangeness.

August 7, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
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The film actually improves on Cunningham's novel, thanks to gorgeous cinematography, a deft script by playwright David Hare ... a mournful, melodious but never intrusive score by Philip Glass and a superb cast.

January 17, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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A compelling, moving film that respects its audience and its source material.

January 17, 2003 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
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As stunning an acting showcase as you'll find.

January 17, 2003
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Smart, thoughtful movie for older teens and up.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Daldry's screen version is well acted but too literal, failing to convey the complexity or the lyricism of Cunningham's seminal novel.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

More than just Oscar bait; it's a veritable Oscar bait and tackle shop.

February 1, 2009 Full Review Source:

The Hours totally engrosses me... It somehow deepens the [book's] themes to see the bodies, scrutinize the faces, smell the money, feel the flatness of the screen.

September 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

The film's true star is its script.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Life may or may not be everything it's cracked up to be. This movie most definitely is.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

If this movie is about how some choose not to live, it's also just as much about why others choose to go on.

December 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Does make you think, but it doesn't entertain.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

'In a sublime collaboration, David Hare and Stephen Daldry have created a delicate atmosphere of inchoate sadness.'

March 22, 2005 Full Review
Las Vegas Mercury

It works like the best poetry, giving us room to explore ideas and issues instead of narrowing itself to simple moral lessons.

December 6, 2004
Looking Closer

Lost we become in story telling that emphasizes cuts and coincidences, leaving serious characterization gaps.

October 14, 2004 Full Review

A feminist diatribe and it's true to its core as it shows men as marginalized.

October 7, 2004 Full Review Source: | Comments (5)

There's not a breath of humor - not one little joke - in the entire two hour length -- a sign of the kind of importance that can be pretty hard to take.

July 5, 2004 Full Review Source: F5 (Wichita, KS)

A moving adaptation of Michael Cunningham's elegant novel about one day in the lives of three women in different time periods.

June 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

An exquisitely insightful exploration of life's little revelations.

November 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Review-Journal

It's questionable whether Michael Cunningham's book could ever be adequately translated into film... and this version, while rewarding, isn't quite up to the task.

October 7, 2003 Full Review Source: EDGE Boston
EDGE Boston

I still love it. In fact, I find it life-affirming - its message: to pay attention to the hours because a whole life can be contained in a single day.

July 3, 2003 Full Review

Audience Reviews for The Hours

They called the book "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham unfilmable, but taking a lot of risks adapter David Hare found this to be easily filmed, almost tailor made. Director Stephen Daldry must have agreed, because what we see on screen is a fluid, memorable, and overwhelmingly circular thread. Three stories, in three time periods, are linked by the book "Mrs. Dalloway" which is about a vapid woman planning a party, which she is trying to use to curtail her own insecurities and depression. Three women are represented in this film, most memorable being Nicole Kidman as author Virginia Woolf, who actually wrote the book. Kidman won Best Actress at the 2003 Academy Awards for her portrayal, and what an amazing one at that. Woolf comes off as so bleak, spirited, and blighted by her time in the country, but it's of course much more about her depression and the lengths that her overprotective husband goes through to keep her alive. In the fifties, housewife Laura Brown (Moore) scuttles through life, trying to please her family, and in the present Clarissa tries to plan a gathering for a friend who is on his last legs. Every story is linked in obvious ways, whether it is that they're planning a party to hide their shame, copious guilt, or ultimatums, the difficulties of their sexuality, or the chain that binds them. It's also good to note that these three women denote different stages in a strange chain as well. While one is the creator of Mrs. Dalloway, another is a seminal example of Mrs. Dalloway, and yet another story deals with the aftermath of Mrs. Dalloway's actions. It all shows the plight of women, trapped in their little bubbles, and the ways they claw their way back to life, lest it kill them in the process. All the performances are very strong and memorable, Kidman's being the shortest and yet the most interesting. This film boasts a very impressive and large cast, and I was happy to see names such as Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, and Toni Collette in the credits. The only section that I felt wasn't particularly interesting was Laura Brown's. Hers is about her life as a housewife in the fifties, and though I understand she is shy and reserved, she comes off as strangely maddened and yet we see none of what it does to her. She runs from her problems, but we don't get to see the impact or any agency until the end. During the scenes she comes off as ineffectual and limp. While this is impactful by the end, it just dragged the longer Moore was onscreen. There is intrinsic value to this film, and it does floor me to see the connections between these three women onscreen when everything possible is said and done.
March 21, 2013

Super Reviewer

Adapted from a seemingly 'unfilmable' novel, this this the story of three women from three different time periods who are all connected in some way to Virginia's Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway.

Those ladies are: Virginia Woolfe herself, working on the novel in 1923, 1950s California housewife Laura Brown who is enamored by the book, and Clarissa Vaughn- a New Yorker planning a party in 2001, who is basically the embodiment of the novel's title character.

What I liked about the film is the structure. Aside from the opening and closing scenes which bookend things, the movie takes place in a single day in each of the time periods, alternating back and forth between them. Also, there's a lot of parallel action and matching cutting going on to link all the stories with one another, one example being each lady waking up at roughly around the same time.

Thematically, this film is all about depression, loss, suicide, and some LGBT leanings. It's not an easy film to watch, and it sure isn't uplifting, but it is fairly compelling. That said, the film is rather slow, and, while it is interesting, it's didn't grab me as much as it probably should have, or as much as I thought it might. I wasn't totally bored, but I wasn't mesmerized, either.

We do get a strong cast here, populated by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Ed Harris, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, John C. Reilly, Toni Collette, and Allison Janney among others, and, as you'd expect, they deliver when it comes to the acting. Kidman was the only one who actually walked away with an award, and she is really good as Woolf, but I personally really liked Moore. Of the men, Reilly was probably my favorite, although Jeff Daniels fares pretty well, too.

The film is shot fairly decently, and the score by Phillip Glass, despite being characteristically repetitive, is quite good and very fitting.

In the end, the film is overrated and kind of a drag, but the set up is intriguing, and the performances are what ultimately save it, so, even though it will depress the dickens out of you, consider giving it a watch.
January 21, 2013
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

"The Hours, is a sad depressing film. Besides that though, very good. It is filled with top notch actresses and a few brilliant actors too.
The movie ties together each story and character quite well. The script is deep and the performances powerful. I was really impressed with the movie. I want to read the book now. It's a very honest look at depression and the effects it has on not only on the person suffering from it, but also on those who are close to them. If you haven't had a chance to see this, then do so."
January 17, 2013

Super Reviewer

Great actings in a sentimental, but nice picture.
July 29, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

    1. Virginia Woolf: I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (20 months ago)
    1. Virginia Woolf: Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It's contrast.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (20 months ago)
    1. Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway said she'd buy the flowers herself.
    2. Laura Brown: [reading aloud] Mrs. Dalloway said she'd buy the flowers herself.
    3. Clarissa Vaughn: [shouting] Sally, I think I'll buy the flowers myself!
    – Submitted by Clayton R (21 months ago)
    1. Clarissa Vaughn: I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.
    – Submitted by Ted S (2 years ago)
    1. Virginia Woolf: Dear Leonard. To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.
    – Submitted by Mati M (2 years ago)
    1. Virginia Woolf: Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.
    – Submitted by Zbigniew Z (2 years ago)
View all quotes (13)

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Foreign Titles

  • The Hours - Von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit (DE)
  • Las horas (ES)
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