old-age: The Hours

The Hours

This was a movie that should have great (good concept and brilliant talent on both sides of the camera): I’m still trying to work out why I fell asleep.

The plot focuses on three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: Clarissa Vaughan, a New Yorker preparing an award party for her AIDS-stricken long-time friend and poet, Richard in 2001; Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a pregnant housewife in 1951 with a young boy and an unhappy marriage; and Virginia Woolf herself struggling with depression in 1920s England whilst trying to write her novel.

Laura Brown reappears in the 2001 segment – Richard was her young son in the 1951 segment.

Claire Danes commented:

They tweaked the ending and they added a scene. Julianne Moore’s character is an old woman and they originally had an actor [Betsy Blair, according to IMDb] playing her as an old woman. They didn’t like the way she looked so they put Julianne in old-age makeup. Julianne was pregnant at the time and she looked funny as an 80-year-old woman that’s pregnant.

The makeup

Ivana Primovac was the makeup and hair supervisor; the wigs were by Peter Owen; the prosthetic makeup was designed by Conor O’Sullivan and Jo Allen; Elaine Offers was Julianne Moore’s makeup artist. Dr Mitchell Cassel of Studio Optix provided the aged-look contact lenses and Fangs FX provided the dental veneers that Julianne Moore wore.

Forget all the hype about Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose: this was the makeup from The Hours. This makeup may have been overlooked in the publicity because making Nicole look dowdy seemed a bigger story, or simply because putting Julianne Moore into old-age makeup was a late decision added in reshoots.

Whatever, this makeup was good enough to stand up to the extreme closeups used by Stephen Daldry: it deserved and should have had an Oscar nomination. Okay she may not look 80 – just how many fifty-year ageing jumps have you seen that worked in closeup – but she does look genuinely old.

Great makeup: shame about the movie.