Hours [2002]

Delicate and hypnotic, The Hours interweaves three stories with remarkable skill: in the 1920s Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) grapples with her inner demons and slowly works on her novel Mrs. Dalloway; in 1949 housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) feels her own destructive impulses; and in 1999 book editor Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep)--much like the title character of Woolf's novel--prepares to throw a party, in honor of her dearest friend, a seriously ill poet (Ed Harris). Small details reverberate from story to story as a powerhouse cast (including Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, John C. Reilly, Stephen Dillane, and Miranda Richardson) gives subtle and beautifully modulated performances. In the hands of director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot), The Hours is almost more a piece of music than a story, and like music, it may move you in unexpected ways. --Bret Fetzer

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