Holiday Movie Preview: The Hours

STARRING: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris DIRECTED BY: Stephen Daldry

Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) published Mrs. Dalloway in 1925. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) reads it in post--World War II Southern California, and it reshapes her life. In present-day New York City, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) lives a version of the day Woolf imagined for her protagonist in distant London.

One can imagine this intricate intertwining of historically and geographically separate lives working as a literary conceit. Indeed, Michael Cunningham won a Pulitzer Prize for it with his novel The Hours. While a reader can imagine Woolf and the others, a movie must literally flesh out fictional creations, and so a...

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