The Hours

Three female big-hitters go on an Oscar hunt

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OPENS FEBRUARY 14, CERT 12A, 114 MINS

Three stories about three women in three different times, linked by Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway, and by the shameless Oscar-grasping performances of the lead actresses?Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep. Kidman even goes as far as wearing a deeply unflattering prosthetic nose for her turn as the brittle, unstable Woolf. In all fairness, she’s extremely good?as are Moore as a 1950s housewife undergoing a quiet breakdown, and Streep in a contemporary story of a woman obsessed with her dying gay friend. And director Stephen Daldry cuts between these three stories with confidence and a visual fluidity that combines them in an elegant whole.

The problem is that so much of the film deals with unspoken inner turmoil that it’s a rather cold and alienating experience. And there’s an undercurrent of self-importance that occasionally surfaces?perhaps if the film-makers hadn’t been so concerned with making a piece of art, they might have made a better film.

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