Monday, November 14, 2005

The Hours

Man, if this kind of thing is what passes for deep (what with critical hosannas and the Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award nominations out the woz), puddles around the world can now harbor aspirations to greatness.


Here's the plot:
Suicidal Virginia Woolf pens a novel, Mrs. Dalloway, where apparently the heroine commits suicide because the agonies of living in quiet suburbia are too much for her, which of course is what really happens to Woolf. (I've not read the book, nor will I, so I may be wrong about the plot.) Years later, a woman experiencing the same thing (oppression of the suburbs, the demands of making a birthday cake, and suppressed lesbianism) while reading said novel nearly commits suicide, but instead just abandons her family. The boy who's abandoned grows up, meets a girl, they have a child, but then he realizes he's gay, leaves her for his lover, but gets aids, writes a terrible novel, then dies by diving out of a window in front of the very same girl he left. All these years she's pined for him, and so nurses him as he dies of AIDS (and inexplicably has become a lesbian herself*). He calls her "Mrs. Dalloway" after the novel (hence the inclusion of this storyline), because she, too, is suicidal over the events in her life: Primarily planning a party for him as a last hurrah before he succumbs to the disease (not knowing he's planning to go skydiving), all the while becoming distressed over the tedium of it all. His death somehow releases her, as his mother's abandonment released her, and as Virginia Wolf's suicide released her. Lovely. The end.


All of this is relayed through achingly slow scenes where everyone either 1) stares at the other person in the scene who's talking, 2) cries, or 3) both for the really intense scenes. In short, excruciating. And, yes, I watched it all the way through, only fast-forwarding through the middle part of a fruitless argument at a train station (as I've said before, sometimes I'll hang with something I hate because of the very fact that I hate it so much, as it arouses my interest in it).

Thus I beseech you to save two hours of YOUR life and avoid The Hours.

*I have a theory about this, since it's not really explained in the movie. I didn't know previous to viewing the flick that the author of The Hours is gay , but this plot point made me suspect he was, and he is. A plot device I've identified that is common to gay fiction is someone straight inexplicably "turning gay" for either the convenience of a plot line, and/or because it's a gay fantasy to be able to turn someone gay out of sheer desire or love. I think the thinking behind it is a gay trope that "everyone is partially gay, they either just don't know it or won't admit it if they do," so the idea is we are all fungible. Well, we're not. It's silly that this woman is now gay, especially since she admits the love of her life is this gay man who left her. Action does not equal reaction in such things. (Of course, someone straight is not allowed to come out and say these things, so I apologize in advance for any flames in the comments.)


Let's pound it to China:
If you ever are faced with the choice between The Hours and Scooby Doo II, like, go with the Scoob. I kid you not.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. I was almost going to rent that. Now I'll do the scoob instead.

BTW, it's really weird that gay writers keep writing about straight people becoming gay. I have been known to suggest that gay people might be able to become straight, and you wouldn't believe the reaction.

jult52 said...

I read Cunningham's novel "The Hours" and the film sounds pretty faithful to it. I would extend your recommendation to the book, with it's flat writing and preacy, earnest tone.

BTW, in "Mrs Dalloway," the lead character doesn't commit suicide. She hosts a pretty successful party. The suicide is a shell-shocked, depressed veteran of the World War I's trench armageddon. The portrayal of this veteran is one of those vivid references to an extremely painful event in England's recent past. So the suicide isn't caused by anomie or garden-variety depression, but by the supremely traumatic experience of having survived a years-long blood bath. But that boob Cunningham misunderstood that part. Don't taint Woolf's fine novel by association.

yahmdallah said...

Thanks for that correction, jult42, I won't taint no mo.