The Hours by Stephen Daldry is based on Michael Cunningham's homonymous novel. The narrative involves three women whose lives became intertwined in unexpected ways. Chronologically, the first thread concerns Virginia Woolf while she is writing Mrs Dalloway. The second focuses on Laura Brown, an American housewife in the 1950s, whose life is deeply changed by her reading of Woolf's novel. The third story is set in New York in the 1990s and follows Clarissa Vaughn's organization of a party for the gay poet Richard, her former lover and Laura Brown's son. Woolf's themes such as suicide and trauma as well as typical recurrent motifs such as flowers, mirrors and kisses are reworked in The Hours.
The Hours evokes Woolf and, particularly, Mrs Dalloway, from the very title which had been chosen originally by Woolf for her own novel. The stories and the characters in The Hours recall situations and people in Mrs Dalloway. Both Clarissa Dalloway and Clarissa Vaughn are getting ready to host a party later in the day. Both Septimus and Richard are poets who have been through catastrophic events (the First World War and the AIDS epidemic respectively) and commit suicide at the end. The novel and the film also pay homage to Woolf's narrative technique by constantly shifting the three narratives and thus the points of view. In addition, the three stories all take place in one day, just like Mrs Dalloway (and other Modernist works). in an interview with the New York Times on January 19th, 2003 Cunningham stated that "the whole human story is contained in every day of every life more or less the way the blueprint for an entire organism is present in every strand of its DNA"