This is my third time seeing this film and I appreciate it more every time I see it. The interconnection between the three characters – Clarissa Vaughn (the embodiment of Clarissa Dalloway in Virginia Woolf’s famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway), Laura Brown, and Woolf herself is what makes the film so dramatic and well-made. The film focuses on these three women and the affects that Mrs. Dalloway has on their loves and how they truly relate to one another even though the live in different eras and live completely differently lifestyles.
One of the major themes in the movie is illness. Someone in each of the three women’s lives has a major illness that affects their lives personally. First of all, Virginia is affected the most, because she has a mental illness and it ultimately drives her to a cold and lonely suicide. Her illness was unbearable and was not only hindering her enjoyment of life, but was also, in her eyes, causing her husband to live an unfair life full of sadness and despair. In regards to Laura, her best friend, Kitty, has been told that she has a growth in her uterus and that is the reason why she can't conceive. Laura, heartbroken by her friend’s horrible and unfortunate news, lets her guard down and shows her feelings for Kitty with an affectionate kiss on the lips, escaping her cookie-cutter life as a housewife for just one moment. Finally, Clarissa’s good friend, Richard (who is also Laura Brown’s son), is dying a slow death because of his fight with AIDS. He is a renowned poet and Clarissa is throwing a party for him, which he doesn’t even want to go to because of his awful condition. Clarissa has an extremely close relationship with him and insists that he attend the party, which he ultimately doesn’t, for an obvious reason.
This theme of illness can also be related to the depression that each of the women faces in their everyday life: Virginia with her mental illness and bleak outlook on life; Laura with her marriage that she is unhappy with, as well as the idea of being the perfect housewife for the rest of her life; and Clarissa’s own “unraveling.” She has been taking care of Richard for ten years and has held her composure, but is now losing that composure due to his worsening condition. The main point here is that these women are spending their whole lives trying to make others happy and not worrying about themselves first. There is a difference between being selfish and having respect for one’s self. Essentially, all three women are living a lie and soon they will have to “face the hours.”
Another major theme/motif in “The Hours” is that of water. No matter what, water is in every scene – it is even mentioned in every scene (whether being poured into a vase to bring life to flowers or requested as a drink). The most obvious reference to water is that of death. Virginia commits suicide by drowning herself in a nearby river, Laura contemplates suicide and the scene of water filling her hotel room is a beautiful but morbid scene simultaneously (it represents the drowning sensation she feels as a housewife and mother), and Clarissa describes going out in the morning to getting into a pool.
PS: The one thing that always bothered me about this film is how red the three women’s faces were and how RED Virginia’s hands were, especially when she was smokin’ those cigs.