The Hours Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“The time to live is now”: the essence of the film “The Hours”. The meaning and plot of the film “The Hours”, description, explanation of the ending.

Country: USA, UK, France, Canada, Germany

Genre: biography, psychological drama

Year of production: 2002

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

Actors: Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep

The time to hide is over. The time to regret is gone. The time to live is now

Awards and nominations: 2003 – Oscar and BAFTA Awards for Best Actress (Nicole Kidman); Golden Globe for Best Drama Film and Best Actress in a Drama (Nicole Kidman); Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Best Actress (Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep).

The events and essence of the film “The Hours” are dedicated to the fate of three women who lived in different eras, but are closely related to each other. All of them are lonely, acutely feel it and are in deep depression.

Why is the movie called that?

The psychological drama “The Hours” was created based on the work of the same name “The Hours” by Michael Cunningham about three women. They are united by Virginia Woolf’s book “Mrs. Dalloway”, which the writer originally called “The Hours”.

The word “Clock” in the name does not mean a device, but a unit of time. In the film, it is regularly pronounced by characters in this sense.

Jeff DanielsMeryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughn, Jeff Daniels as Louis Waters. Frame from the film.

What is the movie about

The Hours tells the story of one day that changed the lives of three main characters closely connected by a novel by Virginia Woolf. The action in it also takes place over the course of one day.

The first character, Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), lives in 1923 England. She is in a deep depression, thinks about how to die and creates the novel “Mrs. Dalloway”.

The second heroine is a housewife from the USA, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore). This line takes place in 1951. She is tired of family life, but she cannot change her fate. According to the plot, he reads a novel.

The third character in the film is editor Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep), who lives in 2001. She wants to throw a party dedicated to her friend Richard Brown (Ed Harris), who won a prestigious literary award. He is the son of Laura Brown and calls Clarissa “Mrs. Dalloway” after the heroine of the novel.

A better understanding of the film “The Hours” will help the analysis of its plot. For convenience, the lines of each heroine are presented below separately, and not intertwined, as in the picture itself.

Nicole KidmanNicole Kidman played the role of Virginia. Frame from the film.

Virginia Woolf

The first minutes of The Hours show the suicide of Virginia Woolf in 1941. She leaves a suicide note for her husband Leonard Wolfe (Stephen Dillane) and explains that her condition has worsened. She reports that she was happily married, but no longer wants to spoil her husband’s life and leaves him to live fully. The heroine fills her pockets with stones on the bank and goes into the river.

The film takes place in 1923. Virginia wakes up in the morning, puts herself in order, washes, talks to her husband about her health and work, refuses breakfast and leaves to write a book. The writer comes up with the beginning of the work (Mrs. Dalloway says that she herself will buy flowers for the reception) and the structure: it will be one day that will reflect the whole life of the heroine, after which she will realize and determine her fate.

The heroine argues with the maids about dinner, and then goes for a walk, where she contemplates the affair and decides that her heroine will commit suicide over some trifle.

Virginia’s sister Vanessa Bell (Miranda Richardson) arrives with the children. They are walking in the garden. The children find the dead bird and have a funeral with the women, during which Virginia talks to her niece about life after death. The writer decides that she will not kill Mrs. Dalloway, but in the novel someone must die in her place.

The writer decides to run away to London, but her husband stops her and explains that they must stay in Richmond for her safety. Virginia replies that she misses London, but lives in a city that does not interest her and does not need such a life. Further, the heroine talks about the right of choice that everyone should have: a person can decide for himself where to be, what to do and how to live. This scene is the essence of the film. Virginia says that she would like to be happy here for the sake of her husband, but she cannot afford it and therefore she would rather die in the choice between death and Richmond. Leonard promises that they will return to the capital.

When discussing the novel, the husband wonders why someone must die in the book. Virginia explains that this is the only way others will appreciate life more. She informs her husband that she came up with the plot of the book, but it remains for her to decide the fate of Mrs. Dalloway. Further, the heroine lies in bed and thinks about something.

The closing scenes show the year 1941 again. Virginia enters the river and drowns. The lines of her farewell letter to her husband sound.

Julianne MooreThe role of Laura Brown was played by Julianne Moore. Frame from the film.

Laura Brown

On her husband Dan Brown’s (John C. Reilly) birthday, Laura Brown wakes up in the morning to read the opening lines of Mrs. Dalloway. Then she discusses her health with her husband (she is pregnant) and plans. She explains that she is preparing a surprise for Dan, escorting him to work, convincing her son Richard to finish his breakfast, and informing him that they will be baking a cake. The hidden meaning of the episode is to show that, despite the seeming well-being of the family, the woman is unhappy.

Mother and son are preparing a cake, but it does not work out. Laura’s friend Kitty Barlow (Toni Collette) comes to visit. She discovers the novel “Miss Dalloway” in Laura and is interested in describing its plot. Further, from the content of the conversation, it becomes known that Kitty must go to the hospital for an examination. She asks Laura to look after the dog and goes to the doctors. Laura throws the cake into the trash can.

Laura lies in bed and thinks about something. Richard is playing in the room. The woman puts medicine in her purse and then bakes a new cake with her son.

Laura takes her son to a friend. The boy does not want to stay and runs after the car. A woman rents a hotel room and decides to commit suicide. Lying on the bed, she reads a Virginia Woolf novel and falls asleep. She dreams that the room is filled with water from the river in which the writer drowned ten years ago. The hidden meaning of the episode is to show the connection between the heroines. Waking up, Laura realizes that she will not be able to accomplish her plan.

A woman arrives for her son and notices how he knocks on the glass with his hands and calls her. Mother picks up Richard and goes home. The family is having dinner. In the last episode of the film, Laura is shown crying in the bathroom, and Dan calls her to sleep.

Meryl StreepMeryl Streep played the role of Clarissa Vaughn. Frame from the film.

Clarissa Vaughn

Clarissa Vaughn, an editor, decides to host a reception and dinner for Richard Brown’s terminally ill friend and former lover. He received a prestigious award for his contribution to literature.

Clarissa buys bouquets from a flower shop and takes them to a friend’s house. She asks Richard how he is feeling and whether he has eaten breakfast, and then persuades him to come to a reception in his honor and dinner in the evening. Brown reluctantly concedes. He says that only Clarissa needs his life and reproaches her for wasting her time on him.

Vaughn prepares a festive dinner. Louis Watters (Jeff Daniels), an old acquaintance, arrives. Clarissa tells how Richard gave her the nickname “Mrs. Dalloway” and cries and says she has a bad feeling.

Clarissa and her daughter Julia Vaughn (Claire Danes) are getting ready for dinner. Clarissa admits that she is still going through a relationship with Brown and feels needed only with him. Everything else for her (except for her daughter) is insignificant. She reports that she was only happy with Richard.

Richard remembers calling his mother the day she almost committed suicide. Clarissa arrives. Richard says that he will not come to the reception and asks how he should live and what to do in the remaining hours: the meaning of these words is that he is tired of life. He confesses to Clarissa that he lived for her and still loves her, but asks to let him go. After that, it is thrown out of the window.

Laura Brown visits Clarissa. She explains why her son killed her in his novel: he couldn’t forgive his mother for running away from Dan and the kids. The woman says that on the day when she could not kill herself, she realized that after the birth of her daughter she would leave her family. And so it happened. She then reveals that she has no regrets about the idea because she had no other choice. To continue with them would mean death to her, but she chose life.

The Hours Ending explanation

The drama “The Hours” depicts three women in one day, reflecting their entire lives. The meaning of the film’s ending is that everyone discovers a solution to the situation in which they find themselves, and suicide plays an important role in this.

Virginia Woolf finishes writing the book and commits suicide, which she planned 19 years ago. Laura Brown was unable to kill herself, but planned to escape after the birth of her daughter. Clarissa Vaughn is freed from the obligations and painful life of Richard, throwing himself out of the window.

The meaning of the film The Hours

Considering the plot of the novel, Virginia Woolf decides that it will show the only day lived by Mrs. Dalloway, but it will reflect the whole life of a woman. In these words lies the interpretation of the meaning of the film “The Hours”.

The director shows one day of three heroines, personifying their whole life. They live in different times, but their destinies are closely intertwined and inextricably linked, and the film regularly demonstrates this. This is the explanation of the first scenes, when women wake up and put themselves in order, while the shots are structured so that one and the same action begins one character, and ends with another. For example, this is the moment with the vase that Clarissa picks up, Laura’s husband puts on the table, and then the flowers are straightened by Virginia’s maid, as well as the scenes with breakfast, which the writer herself, Laura’s son and Richard refuse in turn.

John C ReillyJohn C. Reilly played the role of Dan Brown. Frame from the film.

This is also the meaning of another important scene related to flowers: Virginia writes the first sentence of the novel, in which Mrs. Dalloway says that she will buy flowers herself. This phrase is read by Laura Brown, opening the book, and then said by Clarissa Vaughn, who decided to purchase a bouquet for Richard.

Scenes where the main characters or the people around them perform the same actions are constantly going on throughout the movie “The Hours”. We see Clarissa cooking dinner, Laura baking a cake, and Virginia taking part in planning dinner. All three women in the course of the picture spend time with children (their own or others), discuss the romance that unites them and, one way or another, face suicide.

When Virginia writes a novel, she decides that Mrs. Dalloway will rethink her life during the day and decide what she will do next: fight for her or die. The same thing happens with the main characters, who are in very similar situations, but can no longer stay in them.

An explanation of the ending of The Hours shows that each heroine gets out of the impasse in her own way. Virginia commits suicide. Laura also makes this decision, but then decides to fight for herself and runs away from her family. Clarissa is saved by Richard: throwing himself out of the window, he relieves her of the need to take care of herself and this makes it possible to start a new life.

The point of The Hours is to show an unhappy, depressed person living alone despite the people around him. He can exist like this for years, but to realize his life and decide to change it – in a matter of hours. This is exactly what happened to the heroines: they live without the ability to have a choice for years, but decide what to do next in one day.

Nicole KidmanFrame from the film.

Similar films

  • “Lonely Man” (USA, 2009). After the death of a loved one, Professor George reflects on his life and suicide, but in the end finds the strength to live on.
  • “Magnolia” (USA, 1999). A story about the interweaving of life and destinies of several different people, which took place within one day.
  • “Cloud Atlas” (2012, USA, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore). A series of stories about five rebirths of different people, taking place at different times, but closely related to each other.

Add a comment