Nicole Kidman de-glams herself with a fake nose to play suicidal author Virginia Woolf, but there's nothing fake about her performance. Kidman's acting is superlative, full of passion and feeling.
Woolf is the focus of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1998 novel, which David Hare has adapted into a film that sometimes stumbles on literary pretensions. In the 1920s, Woolf lives in the London suburbs with her protective husband (the superb Stephen Dillane) and battles demons of the mind as she writes Mrs. Dalloway.
That novel will affect the lives of Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a housewife and mother living in 1950s Los Angeles, and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), a modern New Yorker planning a party for a former lover (an off-key Ed Harris), a poet dying of AIDS.
Director Stephen Daldry interweaves these stories with uncanny skill. Kidman's moment at a train station is devastating. Moore is wrenching in her scenes with Laura's son (Jack Rovello, an exceptional child actor). And Streep is a miracle worker, building a character in the space between words and worlds.These three unimprovable actresses make The Hours a thing of beauty.