The Blog

Pathos or Bathos?

On whether "The Hours" succeeds or fails in its ambition to profundity.

11:00 PM, Jan 23, 2003 • By CLAUDIA WINKLER
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It is a film, after all, in which some faithful caretakers of the disturbed are more equal than others. The lesbian bobo Clarissa gets sympathetic treatment, while Laura's husband is portrayed with contempt, and Virginia's husband gets short shrift. Especially in the absence of a single well-developed male character, the heavy-handed lesbian motif--each of the stories features a girl-to-girl kiss on the lips, two of them totally gratuitous--is particularly oppressive.

Virginia Woolf--predictably identified on the website for "The Hours" as "a feminist writer"--actually decried political agendas in fiction. She warned women writers against laying the least stress on any grievance, and urged them not to view the world through the prism of their sex but to "think of things in themselves." "The Hours" might have been a better movie if its makers had paid attention to that advice.

Claudia Winkler is a managing editor at The Weekly Standard.