Director Stephen Daldry and writer David Hare adapt Michael Cunningham’s novel, taking the true story of novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), while writing her masterpiece Mrs. Dalloway
, and juxtaposing it with the fictional stories of two women, one from the 1950s (Julianne Moore) and one today (Meryl Streep). Both women’s lives—coincidentally or otherwise—parallel Woolf’s own and that of her creation, Clarissa Dalloway. It’s a rather self-conscious writer’s conceit, but Hare’s script has a symmetrical elegance that is complemented by Daldry’s fluid direction; our admiration for the elegance entices us to accept the doggedness of the symmetry. The film is intelligently made, with many first-rate performances, and is literary in the best sense of the word: It makes you feel like you’ve just read a really good book.