"The Hours" A BIASed opinion.

This originally appeared in BCN issue 60.

Bias is Shropshire’s bi group and their meeting structure has recently changed to involve weekend social events rather than weekday evening meeting. The first Bias weekend social started as a walk along the river in Shrewsbury in the winter sunshine. It progressed to a pub lunch, then on to a trip to the local cinema to see ‘The Hours’ and concluded (via a few more pubs and a supermarket) in Sonia’s living room where the film was discussed, analysed and generally torn to pieces. Present were Gina, Jen, Martin and Sonia – whose names conveniently all start with different letters – and the discussion went something along the lines of this:

M: It was certainly based very heavily on Virginia Woolf’s book Mrs Dalloway. Some of the scenes were lifted straight out of it, which was nice. I liked the way the two made contact.
J: Not having read that book, and with the film having bits that were clearly from the book in some ways I wasn’t sure how much of it was based definitely on it.
S: So would it be better if you knew the book beforehand?
M: Often I find if I see a film based on a book I often come

away feeling dissatisfied. In this case it was fascinating the way they interwove the stories and the characters and times. That was clever and I think it worked.
S: I found it strange, the way it jumped around from different time periods at the beginning.
G: That kind of thing is what really makes me prick my ears up. It requires concentration
and is more likely to pull me into the story. It certainly happened here.
M: You find yourself working very hard to put together a picture of who these people are and how they fit together.
J: The jumps do get further apart as the film progresses so it’s easier to follow though. It’s just at the beginning it’s a bit full on.
G: By the time it slows down some of the links between the stories are becoming easier to recognise.
J: How about the music? I didn’t notice if it was consistent between the different time periods. Did anyone?
M: There was one point where I wished they’d turn it down, but after I while I realised that it
actually fitted well. The repetitive, oppressive qualities in a lot of ways echoed Virginia Woolf’s life. Were other people aware of the music?
J: It completely passed me by.
G: there was only one point where I really noticed it and that was at a particularly tense point. I don’t cope very well with tension in films and I was aware that the music was really adding to it.
S: I found it really hard to block the music out and concentrate on the film itself because the music was underneath the dialogue a lot. It was one of the most tiring films I’ve seen because of that. I really struggled to hear the dialogue most of the way through.
M: I got the impression subconsciously that the music was almost continuous throughout the film. I’m not sure, I’d like to find out.
J: What about bisexual content? I did notice that in each of the three main time periods there is a same sex kiss. In the two earlier time periods they both happen in front of a child and then the kissers are embarrassed and try to cover it up. In the modern day story the child, well teenager is perfectly relaxed and happy, everyone is out and comfortable with it. From what we know about Virginia Woolf, I think it’s easy to say that we have stories about three bi women over different time frames.
G: Certain elements were really subtle though. I appreciated that. The sexuality of the women was not the main story, it was simply present.
M: It was done very naturally, so at the point where the child is suddenly brought in you realise ‘oh, was something wrong here?’ There is the risk that all these bi characters are seen as seriously fucked up. Well, they are I suppose.
G: Do you think that’s something that the general public would pick up on? Could they blame the fucked up aspects of the characters on their sexuality?
S: I think they might.
M: I would hope that wasn’t the case, but there’s always the danger that people would look for scapegoats. They may see sexuality as the prime suspect. There were certainly no other easy hooks to hang it up on. Actually, now I think about it, there were three characters, one in each time line that were almost out of the thread and suddenly came in and underlined the bisexuality in each timeline.
G: Yeah it was almost as though that was their sole purpose.
J: Really, the film was about not getting involved with a bisexual because they’re all seriously screwed up. A public health warning.
[Various unpublishable comments and laughter.]
G: I find it difficult with any film to say it was about this or that. It was about life. I know that’s really general but it wasn’t about bisexuality. It was themed on bits of Virginia Woolf’s book and on aspects of her life and it simply had bi content too – because her life did.
M: I liked the way it wasn’t all resolved. They didn’t cross every t and dot every i.
J: It does leave things open to interpretation, and depending on how much bisexuality you’re trying to read into it. For example, Laura’s motivations are unclear, whether they are to do with her sexuality or simply the mundanity of her life when faced with the mortality of one of her friends.

Transcript by Gina Roberts

The Hours
Directed by Stephen Daldry, ‘The Hours’ is a film about women and time. It has sometimes been referred to as three films in one as it follows the lives of three women in three different times and alternates between the three story lines with sometimes alarming rapidity. The lives of all three women are strongly influenced by the book “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf. With Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore castas the three main characters and with an equally high quality supporting cast this film was destined to make a mark from the start.
The Hours [DVD] on Amazon.co.uk