THE HOURS tells the story of three very different individuals who share the feeling that they have been living their lives for someone else. Virginia Woolf (Kidman) lives in a suburb of London in the 1920s as she struggles to begin writing her first great novel, Mrs. Dalloway, while also attempting to overcome the mental illness that threatens to engulf her. Laura Brown (Moore), a young wife and mother in post-World War II Los Angeles, is just starting to read Mrs. Dalloway, and is so deeply affected by it that she begins to question the life she has chosen for herself. Then, in contemporary New York City, Clarissa Vaughan (Streep) is a modern-day mirror image of Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway as she plans what may be the final party for her friend and former lover, Richard (Harris), who is dying of AIDS.
It's hard to imagine anyone wanting more than what's on this lovely, single disc. There are four newly produced segments: a talk with composer Philip Glass, a featurette on the three main actresses, a must-see 10-minute feature on the writer of the novel (Michael Cunningham) and the screenplay (David Hare), and a crisp half-hour history of Virginia Wolfe with many anecdotes from various scholars. There are two commentaries. Highly recommended is Cunningham with director Stephen Daldry as they go through the movie with a good sense of appreciation for each person's craft. Cunningham is quite charming in revealing the story's origins while Daldry makes even the smallest task of filmmaking interesting. Daldry's so detailed he apologizes for such seemingly trivial bits as filming the opening sequence at a different time of year than it actually happened. The main three actresses speak separately on the other commentary track, and even though fans will enjoy their insights, the energy is very low; perhaps they should have recorded the track together. Streep's deep laughs at her little jokes are very smile-inducing. --Doug Thomas