Tuesday, May 06, 2003

“A. Filmgoer” writes, asking my opinion on the oft-repeated notions that The Hours is “a serious downer, accessible only to the feminine audience.”

The two ideas are entwined: weren’t they called “women’s weepies” before someone coined “chick flicks”? I don’t believe I am equipped to discuss whether only women like to go to movies to be moved to tears: I don’t cry that readily, and I tend to choose mildly male movies. (Mr. Filmgoer should recall the movies we’ve seen together: Nosferatu, Spider-Man, and at least two Byrd Halloween films.)

That said, I guess many men wouldn’t like it. To me, a central tension of the movie is that of Betty Friedan’s “problem with no name.” Some men can and do understand that in the 20th century women lived in a world that preferred to value them as nurturers and helpmates, but in which they became increasingly educated and active in the world – or were pushed into suburban houses, alone with a child, a B.A., and no one to talk to. I imagine that men who acknowledge that dialectic don’t feel that conflict, and so the movie may not reach some males, on a gut level. (Plus, nothing gets blows up, and I don’t recall any nudity.)

I didn’t find the movie depressing. Virginia Woolf does commit suicide, as does one other character. But, hell, I figured many more characters would, so I felt relieved.

(I did attend the movie with a gentleman – and had his wife’s permission to be out with him – who enjoyed the movie, too.)

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