Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
February 19, 2003
Time to die

Alfred, Xavier and I went to see The Hours at the Arts Cinema this evening. The all-star cast included Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan and Julianne Moore as Laura Brown, with the screenplay by David Hare (of awful theatrical escapade infamy) and music by Philip Glass. The music was rather overplayed and intruded inappropriately in the action. The cast played well together, and was an obvious Oscar ploy.

The film itself was about one woman (Laura Brown) obsessively reading Mrs Dalloway whilst coping with her all-too-perfect husband and child, a second woman (Clarissa Vaughan) organising a party for her friend who is dying of AIDS whilst Virginia Woolf gains inspiration for the novel, imprisoned and deranged in her Sussex home.

The story ends with the AIDS sufferer (an author) refusing to go to the party, saying "I love you" to Vaughan before tipping himself out of the window of his apartment, Woolf drowns herself in a river and Laura Brown finds herself unable to overdose, so decides to live but deserts her husband and children.

Was there a moral to the film? I felt it to be a secular view - one's life is one's own to dispose of as he chooses (man - or woman - disposes). If you want to end your life, go ahead.

Woolf's books were very much coloured with feminist themes, and interpretation of her work perhaps overly labours her mental illness and eventual suicide. The film itself is modelled on Mrs Dalloway, in which several groups of people are followed during the course of a single day. The central figure, Clarissa Dalloway, is a wealthy London hostess. She never meets the shell-shocked veteran Septimus Smith, who commits suicide, but their lives are connected.

Following a bout of of mental illness Woolf loaded her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the River Ouse near her Sussex home in 1941. On her note to her husband she wrote: "I have a feeling I shall go mad. I cannot go on longer in these terrible times. I hear voices and cannot concentrate on my work. I have fought against it but cannot fight any longer. I owe all my happiness to you but cannot go on and spoil your life."

I left the cinema annoyed with Glass, and very maudlin.

Posted by nathan at February 19, 2003 11:30 PM

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