Woolf herself is played brilliantly and darkly by an almost unrecognisable Nicole Kidman, appearing dowdy unkempt and frail as befits a brilliant author on the edge of a nervous breakdown or worse.
The movie actually begins with Woolf's suicide in the Thames in 1943 but then backtracks to her wrestling with the writing of Mrs Dalloway in Richmond in 1921. Enter Julianne Moore playing a pregnant housewife in 1950s LA with a devoted husband and an intensely sad young son who anxiously observes his mother's own mental unravelling as she reads Mrs Dalloway. Meryl Streep plays a contemporary editor organising a party for her friend, ex lover and award wining poet Richard (a wonderful Ed Harris) who is terminally ill in the later stages of AIDs.
The story follows all three in their outwardly pleasant and successful lives, but it is the delving deeper into the pain and despair that plague all three that is the real focus of the film. The jumping back and over in time periods is a bit disconcerting initially and makes the movie a bit hard to follow and even lacking in continuity. However as it progresses the threads all start being drawn together and I am gradually introduced to the connections between the three women.
If one has the patience to persevere and not get irritated by the sometime delicate pace of the film, it is in the end a truly emotive and revealing experience with some brilliant insights on life and death and human relationships thrown in.
If you like thought provoking, fairly intense and artistically crafted films with some great performances you'll probably like this one but if you're looking for thrills spills and a fast pace avoid it.