The novel Mrs. Dalloway
by Virginia Woolf may have inspired generations to come but the role construction of this brilliant author in the The Hours
based on a novel by Michael Cunningham is not as inspirational as that of her devotees who read her work in years to come and who comprise two other stories of the film.
Woolf in The Hours
is presented as an upper class woman, who lives in the suburbs. We note she is unhappy, apart from her friends. We feel there must be a good reason for this exile and concede that her husband Leonoard is lovingly protecting her from her own self-destruction. She insists her servants go in to fetch her ginger from London. We note that they reluctantly are forced to fetch it. The scene is ripe with class differences. Perhaps she takes out her frustration on them for the prison she feels she is living in.Virginia comes alive when her sister visits and when she leaves Virginia plants an incestuous kiss on her lips. When Leonard takes his eyes off her, she dies.
These indexes according to director David Hare's film are presented as the fodder for Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway
. Julianne Moore, plays Laura, a suburban housewife of the 1950's and Meryl Streep plays Clarissa a modern Manhattanite whose friend dying of AIDS, is actually Laura's grown son Richard, played by Ed Harris. Actually, I liked the 'fiction' of Hours, if I try to forget that this is supposed to be about Virginia Woolf.
Something is missing and if you've read Woolf you can feel it.
Nicole Kidman said she loved this author and read her work frenetically, and some of this knowledge comes across on film. But their are many poses characteristic of Nicole and an acquiline nose to blunt Nicole's raving classical beauty.
Virginia Woolf was a vibrant and talented soul, more multifaceted than the film does justice to.
These things are not in the script about Virginia Woolf:
The relationship between she and husband Leonard Woolf was sexless, more like a patient-caretaker relationship. The reason for her 'insanity' emanated from sexual molestation from her half brother, never alluded to . She never succeeded in liberating herself from the psychic damage of incest. She was in love with another woman when she was engaged. These relationships are not given any room whatsoever in the film. Just a chaste kiss to her sister, also an incest survivor.
After her first nervous breakdown she fell in love with a woman named Madge, "Sally" in Mrs. Dalloway. Her father's domination interfered in her beginning an academic career, but this became a need later in life, like air. Leonard took over her father's role. The Bloombury group of artists, writers and intellectuals she later started is never mentioned.
The role construction of Virginia in this film might only inspire you to read Michael Cunningham.
Why not try to get her aura correct? More than picture postcards no matter how caringly they are composed.
For Movie Magazine International , this is Moira Sullivan, Stockholm SWEDEN
© 2003 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 3/02
The Hours and Virginia Woolf
USA - 2002