Haven't read the novel, so can't comment on that, except to note as other critics have that cinema makes it relatively easy to travel between eras without confusion.
Whenever I'm up against a movie like The Hours that deals, among other things, with depression and suicide, I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm a sucker for the theme, and probably over-estimate the quality of such films. Like the person who loves a good cry so much that they think any movie with sappy sentimentalism is an undeniable classic, I watch these movies and spend all my time thinking "that's my life up there on the screen!" This is as true for The Hours as it is for any of the other depression-laden movies. I suppose some might extract a positive message from the movie; I confess I just nodded my head and thought yes, life sucks. And so when I say that The Hours is a terrific movie, you should probably take that with a grain of salt.
As for the plethora of acting excellence, I'd say Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore take top honors amongst the women, but that may just be my opinion of Meryl Streep coming out (I don't dislike her, exactly, but I'm always aware that she's acting ... my favorite Streep role remains Postcards From the Edge). Both Moore and Kidman have begun to make a career of playing a variety of characters brilliantly (as opposed to Streep, who sometimes makes a career of playing different accents brilliantly). In this case, I'd say Moore's work is closer to some of the things she's done elsewhere (I was particularly reminded of Safe), while Kidman manages to do a great job despite the nose job (which she didn't need, she's good enough without it). Ed Harris got the Oscar nod among the men, but I preferred the guy who played Leonard Woolf. I thought this movie was really good, and will give it a tentative 10 on a scale of 10.
But I can't stop here. One underlying theme of the film is the way in which artists leave behind work that lives when the artists themselves are long gone. Who knows what of mine will be left when I go ... this blog? ... anyway, in a weird way, as I had these thoughts about art and life, I remembered a day awhile back when I was feeling a little dizzy (this is a story I told Sara just the other day, which might be why it's fresh in my mind). I went into the bedroom where Robin was reading and told her I was feeling funny, so that if I happened to keel over and die, she'd at least know what to tell the coroner about my dizziness. It was all very lighthearted, even silly, and of course, I didn't keel over, much less die.
What I'm wondering is, how come it's so easy to make a joke about something like being dizzy, but so hard to give advance warning about one's psychological state? Why don't I ever go into the bedroom and say "Robin, I'm feeling suicidal, so if I kill myself, you'll know what to tell the coroner." Because I'm far more ashamed of depression than I am of dizziness.
Which leads me to write the following for posterity: I hated every single day that Robin was in Italy. My life the last three weeks was very much like the lives of the women in The Hours. I didn't think of her all the time; in fact, I probably thought about her less frequently than I would have imagined. I didn't think of her very often because I didn't have time to think of her; I was too busy getting through the hours. Getting up, eating, going to school, seeing friends and family, all of it, every last millisecond, was spent trying to cope with the enormity of getting through just one more day, one more hour, one more moment. I had no time for anything else; I didn't even have time to miss my wife. In fact, to miss Robin would have been to burst the bubble under which I've been living, would have made my world crumble, would have easily given the lie to the sham that has been my life the last three weeks. Cope or drown, those were my choices ... I managed just barely to cope.
It would be nice to say that's in the past ... later this evening I'll be picking Robin up at the airport, and it will be a lot easier to pretend that life is OK again. But when it isn't OK, consider this blog my Dizzy Warning.