THE HOURS must have the best cast since IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD -- Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Miranda Richardson, Claire Danes, Ed Harris, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, John C. Reilly, etc. -- and I braced myself for great performances. (The lesser-known Stephen Dillane, as Virginia Woolf's suffering husband, is especially good.) But what this film offers, above all, is great writing. David Hare's script, based on a novel by Michael Cunningham, is so brilliant on its own terms that everything else the production throws at it -- the exceptional actors, the splendid cinematography, Kidman's uncanny persona-dissolving makeup (which turns her into someone who looks slightly less like Virginia Woolf than Meryl Streep does without any makeup whatsoever), and especially the endlessly cycling, bicyling, tricycling, churning, twerning, exacerbating, lacerating, masturbating score of Philip Glass (I'm finally off the fence; he's a poseur) -- is powerless to do anything but vulgarize it. I'm not saying it's a bad movie; it's not -- but I believe the script would have gained much more in the auditorium of a reader's imagination. I haven't read the novel, so it's quite possible it's all in there.
Viewed on The Movie Channel.