Would it be a contradiction in terms to say that a film essentially about depression could be a beautiful, elegant & eloquent work of art? The Hours is one of the most intense works of art I’ve ever experienced. A note of warning: whatever the greatnesses of this film (& they are many) there are many things this film is not: it is not happy, falsely optimistic, sentimental or anything that almost every other Hollywood film is. It is brutal, it is cruel, it is, well goddamn depressing! That’s all there is to it.
But if you do not see this film because it is hard or depressing, then you will be missing one of the great films of this year or any other.
Ed Harris’ performance as a poet dying of AIDS is harrowing to the Nth degree. His dying, fiery blue eyes are penetrating. They are frightening to behold. His final speech to Meryl Streep’s character is moving beyond words (if you can say that about something that is, in fact, made of words).
Nicole Kidman rivets as Virginia Woolf in the darkest throes of her depressive illness. The scenes she shares with her niece, Angelica Bell, are achingly sad & beautiful: in one they together bury a dead bird, after which Virginia lays her body down calmly next to the bird’s as if to share its fate. In Virginia’s final scene in the film w. Angelica, the young girl sits in her lap & asks her what she was thinking. Woolf replies that she was thinking of killing her heroine & then thought better of it. But Woolf adds that she now must kill off someone else. The blazing glance that she gives her niece after this statement is fearless, profound & frighteningly acute acting on Kidman’s part.
Everyone connected with this film should be deeply proud of their accomplishment. They have made something moving, powerful & deeply troubling.
Another warning: if you suffer from depression or know anyone who has, this film will be even more disturbing. So be prepared for a tough, intense experience, but one more than worth having.