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Monday, February 10, 2003
THE HOURS
- A handy title that not only names the film, but also aptly describes how long every minute of this dreadful piece of cinematic doo-doo feels to the members of the audience -

This is a movie about three different women in three different decades. The only thing good here is the three women, played by the legendary Meryl Streep, the always compelling Julianne Moore, and the greatest actress out there right now, Nicole Kidman. (Was she this great when she used to be married to Tom? Yeah, there was To Die For, back then, wasn't there?) Nicole, as people out here are wont to say, can do anything. And here, as the deeply disturbed Virginia Woolf, she managed to amaze me again. This feat is doubly amazing because Nicole managed to amaze me, despite the fact that I was fighting waves of nausea and disgust at the horribleness of the story in The Hours, the tortured inversion of truth in the film's theme, the dialogue which was remarkable several times for being bizarrely inappropriate to the moment, and even the score, best described as cacophonic irresolution, which made me envy Ed Harris when he jumped out the window. At least he could get away from it. As much as it will kill me, I think Nicole Kidman must needs get the Oscar for her incredibleness in this piece of insidious tripe.

There are all kinds of story problems here. A friend of mine nailed the fundamental story flaw with the astute query to a fawning industry friend, "I'll give you one hundred dollars right here, if you can tell me why Meryl Streep's character was unraveling." This is the lynchpin question of the movie. The fact that the answer is illusive is tied to the fact that the whole premise of the movie is one big lie.

The premise is: "Sometimes, in order to be happy, you have to go against your own nature."

Just for the record, this is a lie. To be happy, you have to cooperate with the nature that God gave you. Going against your nature is a recipe for personal disaster.

So, in the movie, we are treated to a disturbing sequence of unnatural acts that are billed as courageous lily pads to fulfillment and happiness for the characters. Every one of the vignettes gives us a protracted lesbian kiss - an unnatural act for two of the women, at least. (Although through slow reveals, we are led to discover, with them, how emotionally satisfying same-sex kissing actually can be.) Julianne Moore's character ends up abandoning her child, a profoundly unnatural act. In all three of the vignettes, the most profoundly unnatural act, suicide, is reckoned a doorway to freedom.

A presupposition of the film constitutes another big lie: "Women who are in relationships with men, will be miserable." This gets us back to why the Streep character, who is in a wonderful lesbian relationship with a character played uncomfortably by Alison Janney (Left Wing), should still be unraveling through most of the hours of The Hours. It's a real stretch to put it together, because the writer here is so clearly in search of a theme. It seems that one might conclude that Streep's lesbian was being emotionally sucked dry by Ed Harris' despicable grizzled gay man, who is dying of AIDS. It isn't until Harris flings himself out a window, that Streep is finally free of the vortex of male oppression.

Another compelling lie in the film, is that the Ed Harris character should never have been born. His mother, played by Julianne, should just never have given him birth. The implicit suggestion is that, since this vignette takes place in the 1950's, abortion would not have been an option for an unhapy lesbian trapped in heterosexual domestic hell. Her son goes on to have a miserable life. He becomes cranky and obnoxious, living in his own filth and eaten away by AIDS, until he finally kills himself.

This is a very bad movie on pretty much every level except the acting. It is pervaded by a stifling joylessness that, in the end, just made me want to pray for the people who put this out there to slime the rest of us. So, I suppose it isn't a total loss for them.

So, why is The Hours up for an Academy Award for Best Picture? Sadly, I think just because of its lies. This is one of those Hollywood "We're making a statement" films, like Boys Don't Cry or The Cider House Rules. It is an attempt to normalize lesbianism. It is an attempt to normalize human life without the limits of God's law.

My rating of The Hours: "Run for your life! Don't wait for the video!"