Nicole Kidman puts in an Oscar-winning performance as author Virginia Woolf in this adaptation of Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the writer and two women who are deeply affected by her work. Drawing parallels with Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter David Hare skilfully dovetail Woolf's tragic story with those of a 1950s housewife (Julianne Moore) and a modern day party hostess (Meryl Streep). All three face issues of sexuality with varying degrees of tragedy, but though the mood is sombre the drama oozes with sensitivity and class. Ed Harris, as Streep's AIDS-afflicted ex, is a case in point.
The title of Stephen Daldry's haunting film relates to the periods of time that remain in the days of three women in different times and in different countries, who must bear the agony of living under false pretences.
The common links are lesbianism, suicide and Virginia Woolf (Kidman with a false nose) - who lives her empty and repressed life through her heroine, Mrs Dalloway, and her early demise.
Julianne Moore is a 1950s housewife who is attracted to women but suffers from a kindly husband (John C Reilly) and adoring son, and who cannot cope with her unwanted pregnancy and suffocating yet normal life.
The powerhouse acting trio is topped off with a hard-hitting Streep. She plays Clarissa, who has found her true love - a woman - but secretly longs for her dying ex, an award-winning poet, played superbly by the reliable Ed Harris.
The three women allow their lives to intertwine emotionally and the parallels - even those reaching far between generations - are remarkable.
The acting from all three is understated, and evokes deeply meaningless existences and unfulfilled ambitions.
Yet the film as a whole is not particularly dark and implies that even the most deep-rooted unhappiness can be lifted with a bit of courage - even if it means hurting those who love you most.
The fact that the reprieve comes for these characters through death and abandonment is testimony to the power of writer David Hare, who can turn a most desperate tale into a story of hope.