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A Movie Review - Stephen Daltry's the Hours

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Stephen Daltry's The hours is such a delicate and soul-stirring movie in a subtle way. It gains a great achievement in direction, performance, editing, music, etc. The story is taken from the same-titled novel by Michael Cunningham. With the same structure of the novel, the movie describes a meaningful day in the lives of three women in a paralleled way. The three characters seemingly have no connection, which in fact associate with each other by Virginia Woolf and her novel, Mrs. Dalloway. The story starts on a beautiful morning. But in this ordinary day, everything becomes different, even changes their way of looking life.

In the 1920's, Virginia Woolf is working on her novel, Mrs. Dalloway. She is on the edge of mental collapse because of long-last depression. Only to find consolation by living in the novel she is writing. In the 1950's, American housewife Laura Brown is reading Mrs. Dalloway at home. She has an enviable family, but feels lonely and gets tired of domestic routine. Inspired by the novel, she tries to commit suicide in despair. Back to 2001, the modern version of Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Vaughn is preparing a party for her friend, Richard. But Richard can't endure the sufferings of Aids, and kills himself.

The movie presents the characters' spiritual world by the outstanding performance of the actors. Nicole Kidman accurately captures some details just to the point, which perfectly expresses the sensitive and neurotic temperament of Virginia Woolf. There's an unforgettable scene when she lies beside the dead bird and looks into its eyes, the profound eyes make people shivered all over. The three women have different characteristics, but share some common feelings. They are living for others. Like Virginia says in the movie, "My life has been stolen from me." They try to escape from reality by making compromise, but at the same time, they wish to break free from all the restraints. In seeking self value, they struggle with the fate in different ways. What does it mean to be alive? This seemingly easy question puzzles all of the characters even us. To Virginia, if to be alive means conformism, it's better to die. She dreams of colorful life. Her talent destines not to be buried under daily trifles. But the restrictions from her husband and the society repress her nature and emotion. The conflict can only be solved by death. To Laura, she lives for her family, which is also a burden to her. Peaceful even suffocating life can't bring her happiness and satisfaction. Mrs. Dalloway comforts and affects her. Besides, the visit of a neighbor friend is a driving force of her attempt to commit suicide. But finally, she chooses to live because of family responsibility, which awakes her and pulls her back to reality. Anyway, determined to make a change, she abandons her family and starts her own life. Clarissa, a symbol of feminism, lives an independent and modern life. A strong

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