Why do people kill themselves? That is one of the central questions/themes that THE HOURS explores. Unfolding across three different time periods, this film tells the story of how the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" affects different women who have had to deal with suicide (or suicidal thoughts) in their lives. It stars Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf (who wrote "Mrs. Dalloway"), Julianne Moore as Laura, and Meryl Streep as Clarissa. Virginia Woolf, who has some mental health issues, is mostly confined to a country home with her husband and writes "Mrs. Dalloway" as a way to cope with her situation. Laura is a 1950's suburban housewife who, despite her external appearance, is very unhappy with her boring life. And then there's Clarissa, who is in a committed lesbian relationship and is planning a party for her writer friend Richard, who is also dying of AIDS. All three women have similar stresses and one of the strong points of the film is the way it seamlessly moves between each time period while still telling a unified story. It also deals with some weighty themes that will give you a lot to ponder aside from the key issue of suicide. Among these are social pressures and expectations, selflessness versus selfishness, what makes a person happy, etc. The acting supporting these elements was also top-notch, as would be expected from the outstanding cast, and each of the three lead actresses gets a scene in which to shine. I should also mention Philip Glass' score, which I was actually familiar with prior to seeing the film. I felt like his music was perfectly suited to the material, accurately conveying the sense of isolation, melancholy, and ennui common to all three of the central characters. However, the film's structure is partly its undoing, although not disastrously so. A lot of the dialogue is pretty on-the-nose, and the juxtaposition of scenes basically tells the audience how they should interpret what they're seeing rather than let them figure things out on their own. Still, the repetition of key dialogue from different characters and using match cuts to transition between time periods was an effective way to unify the narrative, as well as provide needed continuity. When it comes down to it, THE HOURS is a very well-made and well-acted film that deals with heavy themes and emotions, even if in a slightly pretentious way. This isn't a film I can see watching that often, if even a second time, but the potential for discussion and/or self-assessment makes this definitely worth seeing.