In the theme of The Hours, written by Michael Cunningham and Susan Minot and based on Minot's 1998 novel of the same name, comes a love story that spans decades. Most of the characters in this film are female and they are played by the some of the best actresses in the film industry.
The film opens up as death is hanging over the head of critically ill, elderly Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) while she lays in bed. Her mind drifts between her past and the present. Her two daughters are there to comfort her, but the name of a man from her past named Harris keeps coming from her mouth. The melodrama sets in when the curious and unsettled daughter Nina (Toni Collette) wants to know who is this man named Harris? But Nina has unresolved issues of her own to deal with, because she is two months pregnant and single. Whereas her sister Constance (Natasha Richardson), who is married with children and has life under control, wants her mother to rest peacefully in her last moments. Nina is relentless in asking questions and reading old letters to gain information. This works cleverly on screen as Ann drifts in and out of her memories.
As Ann's memory wavers back and forth, the flashback scenes takes the audience to the early 1950s to her best friend Lila Wittenborn's (Mamie Gummer) wedding in Newport, Rhode Island. During that time she was Ann Grant (Claire Danes), a carefree, up and coming night spot singer. Lila's alcoholic and reckless brother Buddy (Hugh Dancy) was a young man who had a crush on Ann, but when the young handsome Dr. Harris Arden (Patrick Wilson) appeared at the wedding, Ann's eyes were set on him. During the festivities Harris and Ann fell in love, but during their absence a fatal accident happened to a Wittenborn. The fatality left Lila's mother (Glenn Close) in shock and everyone else bewildered.