Stephen Daldry's self-consciously literate adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel is intelligent, suffocating and overegged. A tale of desire, depression and motherhood, it tells the stories of three women - the novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), a '50s "homemaker" (Julianne Moore) and a present-day publisher (Meryl Streep) - using Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway as a link.
Moore gives a stunning study in suggestive restraint, but the Oscar-nabbing, bloody-great-conk-sporting Kidman is far too knowing and studied. But so is the film: it's overcast, overwritten, portentously scored by Philip Glass and clearly very pleased with its "prestige" status. However skilfully done, The Hours sinks in self-congratulation.